The Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership at the City College of New York (CCNY), under the direction of Dr. Jean Krasno, undertook a project to publish the collected papers of former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan who served two five-year terms, spanning ten years from January 1997 to December 2006. Under Dr. Krasno’s direction, the research team read all his papers in the public domain including speeches, remarks, press conferences, reports to the Security Council, noon briefings, statements, and newly declassified papers released to the project by the UN to build a database for publication. Prior to this digital initiative, The Collected Papers of Kofi Annan: UN Secretary-General 1997-2006, a five-volume set arranged in chronological order with detailed subject indices, was published in print in 2012 by Lynne Rienner Publishers (LRP) and is available to libraries and research centers, as well as to scholars around the world. 

This curated digital compendium includes primarily the selected declassified papers digitally scanned in their original format: letterhead, handwritten notes, internal memos and so forth. Some additional declassified documents are included here that did not appear in the books due to a lack of space. In addition, this online set includes selected speeches, interviews, op-ed articles, and photographs from the UN Photo Library that illustrate Kofi Annan’s work as Secretary-General. We also highlight documents that contain handwritten notes by Kofi Annan wherein we transcribe the content to make the material more readable. Our goal is to create a curated set of Kofi Annan’s work that can be used for reference, research, and teaching.

Global digital availability of these papers makes the work of Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the United Nations more accessible to the public beyond the confines of the institution and allows scholars, diplomats, and the general public the ability to explore with more clarity the inner workings, not only of the Secretary-General’s office, but through his work, the UN’s departments and subsidiaries. Much of the UN’s work and issues taken up by the Organization are reflected in letters from the Executive Office of the Secretary-General (EOSG) to heads of state, foreign ministers, and civil society. In addition, letters and memos between the UN departments and the Secretary-General reveal previously unseen recommendations and dialogues prior to final policy decisions. Our view is that the work of UN Archives, the five-volume set of Kofi Annan’s papers, along with this online set of the selected works of Kofi Annan are interactive and mutually complementary in understanding the breadth and depth of this Secretary-General’s work and that of the United Nations.


More than ever, the world needs the United Nations, with its universal membership, working multilaterally to find global solutions to global problems. No country, large or small, acting unilaterally can effectively resolve or defy the challenges to end poverty, promote prosperity and well-being for all, and protect the planet. Managing peace efforts in today's complex environment is a daunting task. The "good offices" of the United Nations Secretary-General can play a pivotal role in determining whether mediated or negotiated settlements to disputes can prevent violence or deter further escalation of a conflict.

The Secretary-General must constantly walk a thin line between maintaining the trust and confidentiality of Member States, now 193, that may come to him seeking advice or action on a sensitive matter, while also projecting an impartial public persona in order to draw attention to the legitimacy and importance of the United Nations as the only global institution with a mandate to maintain international peace and security, promote sustainable development protect human rights, and uphold international laws and deliver humanitarian aid. It is important for the future benefit of the United Nations and multilateral cooperation among Member States to have a greater understanding of how this Secretary-General managed his leadership role within the constraints and opportunities of the office.

History of the Project 

The UN has had a policy of storing and preserving all archival materials of the Secretaries-General in special archival boxes in UN Archives and not releasing them for 20 years. However, a policy paper created by the UN states that the papers could be released upon the permission of the respective Secretary-General. Kofi Annan expressed his desire to have his papers available to the public before the 20-year period. Dr. Krasno received permission from Kofi Annan to release his papers after they had gone through a thorough declassification process by the UN.

From 2006 through 2012, Dr. Krasno led the organization and selection of the papers of Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and the online cataloging effort of the Annan papers took place between 2015 and 2018. Through working with Digital Scholarship Services at the City College of New York (CCNY), we are now able to offer this curated digital compendium for all to use.