Kofi Annan Quotes on Peace and Nuclear Weapons

Photo of Kofi Annan

There are many precious Kofi Annan quotes. Indeed they are a legacy to our world. Here’s my favourites on the subject of peace and nuclear weapons.

Former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan passed away on 8th August 2018 following a short illness. He strongly opposed nuclear weapons and singled them out as the world’s greatest threat.

Kofi Annan was a global statesman who fought throughout his life for a fairer and more peaceful world. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001 for revitalising the UN and prioritising human rights.

Even after he retired he continued to work in the cause of peace by setting up the Kofi Annan Foundation.

One of my favourite quotes comes from a speech he made at Central Hall, Westminster. In just a few words he demolishes the myth that a country is safer when it has nukes:

The more that those states that already have [nuclear weapons] increase their arsenals, or insist that such weapons are essential to their national security, the more other states feel that they too must have them for their security.

Here’s my other favourite Kofi Annan quotes on peace and nuclear weapons:


The continued existence of nuclear stockpiles leaves the shadow of nuclear war hanging over our world.

Nuclear terrorism is still often treated as science fiction. I wish it were…. That [it] has not yet happened is not an excuse for complacency. Rather, it gives us a last chance to take effective preventive action.

The more fingers there are on nuclear triggers, and the more those fingers belong to leaders of unstable States — or, even worse, non-State actors — the greater the threat to all humankind.

The international community seems almost to be sleepwalking [towards proliferation and nuclear terrorism] – not by conscious choice, but rather through miscalculation, sterile debate and the paralysis of multilateral mechanisms for confidence-building and conflict-resolution.

State Policies

No State should imagine that, by pushing ahead with a nuclear-weapon programme, it can pose as a defender of the Non-Proliferation Treaty; still less that it will persuade others to disarm.

It would be the height of folly to take for granted that such weapons are too terrible ever to be used, and that States will keep them only as a deterrent.

What governments and people don’t realise is that sometimes the collective interest – the international interest – is also the national interest.

Peace Education

There has never been a greater need for education in the areas of disarmament and non-proliferation … changing concepts of security and threat have demanded new thinking. Such new thinking will arise from those who are educated and trained today.

Call to Action

We have the means and the capacity to deal with our problems, if only we can find the political will.

I call on all the States with nuclear weapons to develop concrete plans — with specific timetables — for implementing their disarmament commitments. And I urge them to make a joint declaration of intent to achieve the progressive elimination of all nuclear weapons, under strict and effective international control.

The status quo cannot work.

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