The Panel of Eminent African Personalities is chaired by H.E. Kofi Annan
Kofi Annan was the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations. His first five-year term began on 1 January 1997 and, following his re-appointment by the UN Member States, the second five-year term began on 1 January 2002.
Born in Kumasi, Ghana, on 8 April 1938, Mr. Annan studied at the University of Science and Technology in Kumasi and completed his undergraduate work in economics at Macalester College in the United States in 1961. From 1961 to 1962, he undertook graduate studies in economics at the Institut universitaire des hautes études internationales in Geneva. As a 1971- 1972 Sloan Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mr. Annan received a Master of Science degree in management.
Mr. Annan joined the UN in 1962, working for the World Health Organization in Geneva, where he later also served with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. At UN Headquarters in New York, Mr. Annan held senior positions in a diverse range of areas, including human resources management (1987-1990), budget and finance (1990-1992), and peacekeeping (March 1992-December 1996). He was Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping at a time when nearly 70,000 military and civilian personnel were deployed in UN operations around the world.
A seasoned journalist, diplomat and politician, Benjamin Mkapa was elected President of Tanzania in November 1995. He is the third President of the United Republic of Tanzania since independence in 1961.
President Mkapa was born in 1938 in Masasi, in the Mtwara region of the country. He received his primary and secondary education in Tanzania, and continued his studies at Makerere University College in Uganda, obtaining a Bachelor of Arts degree in English (with Honours) in 1962.
President Mkapa's career began in local administration in Dodoma where he was appointed District Officer in 1962. He became a Foreign Service Officer later that year. In 1966 Mr. Mkapa embarked upon a long career in journalism. During the 1960s and 70s he served as Managing Editor of Tanzania's leading newspapers, The Nationalist, Uhuru, The Daily News, and The Sunday News.
His experience in the news media led to his appointment, in 1974, to Press Secretary to the then President of Tanzania, H. E. Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere, whom he served for two years. In 1976, Mr. Mkapa became the Founding Editor of the Tanzania News Agency (SHIHATA).
He also became Minister for Information and Culture in 1980-82; and again Minister for Information and Broadcasting in 1990-92.President Mkapa's equally long diplomatic career included a number of high postings, including High Commissioner to Nigeria (in 1976) and Minister for Foreign Affairs (from 1977 to 1980).
In 1982, he served as High Commissioner to Canada and between 1983 and 1984 as Ambassador to the United States of America. He returned home in 1984 where he was again appointed Member of Parliament and Minister for Foreign Affairs. In 1992, he served as Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education, prior to being elected President in 1995, and Chairman of his Party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi, in 1996. He was re-elected President in 2000 for another 5 year term.
Graça Machel is a renowned international advocate for women and children’s rights and has been a social and political activist over many decades. She is President of the Foundation for Community Development (FDC), a not for profit Mozambican organisation she founded in 1994.
Between 1975 and 1989, Graça Machel served as Mozambique’s Minister of Education. In 1994, the Secretary-General of the United Nations appointed Graça Machel as an independent expert to carry out an assessment of the impact of armed conflict on children.
Graça Machel’s many awards include the Laureate of Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger from the Hunger Project in 1992 and the Nansen Medal in recognition of her contribution to the welfare of refugee children in 1995. She has received the Inter Press Service’s International Achievement Award for her work on behalf of children internationally, the Africare Distinguished Humanitarian Service Award and the North-South Prize of the Council of Europe, amongst others.
In addition, Graça Machel has served on the boards of numerous international organisations, including the UN Foundation, the Forum of African Women Educationalists, the African Leadership Forum and the International Crisis Group.
Amongst her current commitments, Graça Machel is Chair of the GAVI Fund Board, Chancellor of the University of Cape Town, South Africa and Peer of the African Peer Review Mechanism. Mrs Machel also serves on the Africa Progress Panel, convened by Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations.
With Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, Graça Machel has convened the Elders, a group of leaders who will contribute their wisdom, independent leadership and integrity to tackling some of the world's toughest problems.