Interventions (A life in War and Peace)

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Kofi Annan’s memoir, Interventions: A Life in War and Peace, provides a timely contribution to the long running debate on humanitarian intervention, published shortly after his resignation as the United Nations–League of Arab States Joint Special Envoy for the Syrian crisis.

The book extends from the conflicts in Somalia, Rwanda, and Bosnia to those in Afghanistan and Iraq. As in books by other previous Secretaries-General, there is a focus on the relations of the UN with member states, and in particular the relationship with the US.1 The book provides numerous insights, in particular into how leadership is dependent on an ability to ‘convince others of the justice and urgency of their cause’ (at 139–140).2 While such persuasion is clearly a key aspect of the role of the Secretary-General, Kofi Annan also highlights the ability of the Secretary-General to speak and be heard where others might not be (at 181).

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