(180818) -- BEIJING, Aug. 18, 2018 (Xinhua) -- File photo taken on Dec. 19, 2006 shows then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan smiling during his final press conference at the United Nations headquarters in New York. Multiple Ghanaian media sources have confirmed that former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan died at a hospital in Switzerland on Saturday. He was 80 years old. (Xinhua/Zhao Peng) (qxy)

JOHANNESBURG - With the death in the early hours of Saturday morning of former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan, the world has lost yet another "magnanimous and selfless model leader”, Brand South Africa said.

"This weekend, the world woke up to the sad news on the passing of the first [black] African secretary general of the United Nations (UN) Kofi Annan," Brand SA said in a statement on Sunday.

"News headlines report that the 80-year-old advocate for the African continent, and seventh secretary general who rose through the ranks of the UN, suffered with a short illness before he died.

"The Ghanaian diplomat, and one of the United Nations’ most high-profile and well-respected former secretary generals was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with the UN 'for their work for a better organised and more peaceful world'. Annan served as the UN secretary general from January 1997 to December 2006 – and put development, human rights, the rule of law, good governance, and peace at the top of the UN's agenda, Brand SA said.

In the statement, Brand SA chief marketing officer Linda Magapatona-Sangaret said, “2018 marks the centenary of the birth of [former president] Nelson Mandela – it is a year which has provided an opportunity for people around the world to reflect on his exceptional leadership. Kofi Annan too was such a great leader, and leaves behind a similar legacy as he dedicated his years in service of human development and peace. The world has lost yet another magnanimous and selfless model leader.”

Annan who delivered the 5th Nelson Mandela annual lecture on July 22, 2007, which focused on the progress of Africa, also served as the chair of the The Elders - an international non-governmental organisation of public figures noted as elder statesmen, peace activists, and human rights advocates, who were brought together by Mandela in 2007, Brand SA said.

The goal Mandela set for the Elders was to use their "almost 1000 years of joint experience" to work on solutions for seemingly insurmountable problems, such as climate change, HIV/Aids, and poverty, as well as to "use their political independence to help resolve some of the world's most intractable conflicts".

Annan was a member of The Elders since its founding in 2007, succeeding Archbishop Emiritus Desmond Tutu as chair in May 2013. Between February and August 2012 Annan temporarily recused himself as a member of The Elders during his UN and Arab League assignment as joint special envoy on the Syrian crisis.

Annan’s first engagement with The Elders came in November 2008 when, together with former US president Jimmy Carter and Mandela's wife Graça Machel, he drew the world’s attention on the humanitarian crisis affecting Zimbabwe, Brand SA said.

African News Agency (ANA)