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•Accounts of handling massive human rights violations (Darfur, Kosovo, East Timor)

•The drive to give the UN credibility so that global governance can proceed according to the rule of law

•Efforts to bring a modicum of peace to the war-torn African continent

•The need to redefine human security as liberation from poverty

•The search for solutions in the Middle East

•The drive to grapple with terrorism in the wake of Sept, 11, 2001 (Afghanistan, Iraq)

Each chapter offers anecdotes and initiatives that serve as rough drafts of history. Annan never pretends the UN peacekeeping efforts worked out well. He concedes that an estimated 800,000 died in Rwanda in just a month while the UN membership staged no meaningful intervention – an abject failure by any measure.

Annan comes across as self-aware as he describes his hopes as the “dreams of a realist.” Anyone filling the position of secretary-general successfully would need that sort of perspective. Born in Ghana in 1938, Annan joined the UN 50 years ago in Geneva, headquarters of its World Health Organization arm. When the scourge of HIV/AIDS began to appear, Annan was ready to fight it. When national governments suppressed the education of young females, Annan tried to shame the suppressors. Annan also dealt with the effects of natural disasters, heading up projects like post-tsunami relief efforts.

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