Kofi Annan Foundation
Acronym: Kofi Annan Foundation
Address: P.O.B. 157, 1211 Geneva 20, Switzerland
Stakeholder group: NGOs and associations
The Kofi Annan Foundation is an independent not-for-profit organisation, established in Switzerland in 2007 by the late former UN Secretary-General and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Kofi Annan. Its board is composed of prominent personalities from the public and private sectors, and it has a small team based in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Kofi Annan Foundation wants a fairer and more peaceful world, where no one is left behind, democratic principles and the rule of law are upheld, and divides are bridged through dialogue and international cooperation.
The Foundation works closely with partners from international and regional organisations, foundations, universities, and civil society. It channels expertise, convenes all stakeholders around the table, and forges coalitions of trusted influence that can make change happen.
The Kofi Annan Foundation has three strategic objectives:
- Strengthening democracy and elections, because popular legitimacy provides the basis for democratic governance, accountability, and respect for human rights and the rule of law.
- Empowering youth to build a peaceful, sustainable future because they are active agents of change and must be given the opportunity to shape the world they will inherit.
- Advocating for a more effective, inclusive, and equitable multilateral system, and promoting Kofi Annan’s core belief that structured international cooperation is key to solving challenges in today’s interconnected world.
The Kofi Annan Foundation addresses digitalisation within the scope of youth, peace, and trust, as well as elections and democracy in the follow-up to the Kofi Annan Commission on Elections and Democracy in the Digital Age (KACEDDA).
The Commission proposed a series of actions to mitigate the negative impact of social media on elections and democracy, several of which the Foundation is directly implementing. These include new models to counter political disinformation, pre-electoral pledges regarding digital behaviour and activities, and the gauging of digital vulnerabilities of elections. The Foundation is also mobilising digital tools and platforms to increase the representativeness and inclusivity of elections and democratic decision-making, particularly for young people.
Digital policy issues
The Extremely Together programme consists of young people from around the world working to counter the impact of extremism in their own communities. An initial cohort of ten impressive leaders has grown over the years to include national hubs in Uganda, Somalia, and soon the Sahel. Digital tools allow these young people to draw on the network and support of the Kofi Annan Foundation and share experiences to improve the impact of their work.
Fostering youth leadership
Sharing the leadership values, wisdom, and lessons of Kofi Annan with the next generation is an important element of the legacy work of the Foundation. Digital tools allow us to reach young people in every corner of the globe who would otherwise not be able to benefit from his advice and that of the people who worked closely with him. Two cohorts of Kofi Annan Changemakers – young leaders from different fields and backgrounds – have now harnessed digital communications tools and platforms to improve their leadership skills and build critical capacities.
The Foundation works with civil society, electoral management bodies, and the private sector to develop capacity and tools to counter electoral-related disinformation. It is developing tools to mitigate negative foreign interference in elections and to identify elections at risk from digital threats.
Ethical and democratic leadership
WYDE Civic Engagement Accountability Hubs brings together a group of exceptional young leaders from sub-Saharan Africa in a comprehensive digital and in-person training and networking programme to enhance their skills in ethical and democratic leadership, project management, advocacy, and communications and develop pilot actions to put their project ideas into practice with dedicated seed grants.
Supporting election with integrity
Regarding its activities on elections and democracy, the Foundation’s digital work is based on KACEDDA’s findings. The Commission was first established in 2018 and was composed of members from civil society and government, the technology sector, academia, and the media. The objectives of the Commission were to identify and frame the challenges to electoral integrity arising from the global spread of digital technologies and social media platforms, develop policy measures to tackle these challenges and highlight the opportunities that technological change offers for strengthening electoral integrity and political participation, and define and articulate a programme of advocacy to ensure that the key messages emerging from the Commission were widely diffused and debated around the world.
In addition to articles that deal with issues such as the interplay between democracy and the internet, the impact of digital on elections and democracy in West Africa, and the digital dangers to democracy, the Commission published an extensive report titled Protecting Electoral Integrity in the Digital Age. It addresses, among other things, hate speech, disinformation, online political advertising, and foreign interference in elections. The report proposes a set of 13 recommendations that address capacity building, norm building, and actions to be taken by public authorities and social media platforms. The Foundation is now working to implement certain recommendations, in cooperation with key stakeholders from civil society, academia, the private sector, and government.
Building a more effective architecture for digital cooperation.
The Foundation facilitates the sharing of lessons and expertise across countries to counter the negative impact of social media on elections, particularly harnessing the potential of South-South partnerships and building the capacity of civil society and electoral stakeholders.
Ensuring the protection of human rights in the digital era.
The Foundation works with electoral stakeholders to mitigate the impact of online disinformation and hate speech, and to ensure threats from the digital space do not undermine citizens’ rights to political participation and that digital tools increase voters’ ability to make informed and educated electoral decisions.
Raising awareness of Kofi Annan’s Legacy
The Kofi Annan Foundation uses digital tools to raise awareness of Kofi Annan’s legacy, by providing electronic access to selected speeches and quotations as well as to a collection of his papers compiled by the City University of New York on our website, and to some of his recorded statements and discussions via our official YouTube channel.
Future of meetings
The Kofi Annan Foundation regularly organises online and hybrid webinars, roundtables, and regional events on a variety of topics including elections in various regions of the world, youth resilience during the pandemic, violence against women in politics, disinformation, the impact of COVID-19 on democracy and elections, and more.
The Foundation makes use of digital tools including Zoom and WhatsApp to connect with our youth leaders and partners around the world and to share information about their programmes as well as speaking and networking opportunities.
Both the Kofi Annan Changemakers and WYDE Civic Engagement Accountability Hubs programmes are hybrid, consisting of online modules of learning, training, and presentations.
The Foundation holds board meetings online, with decisions on programmatic and resource matters taken by members participating remotely. Wealso convene our weekly team meetings in a hybrid manner as well as annual virtual meetings of our Electoral Integrity Initiative.
Kofi Time: The Podcast
Through our podcast, Kofi Time, we promote Kofi Annan’s values and their relevance today to a global audience. In our podcast, Ahmad Fawzi, one of Kofi Annan’s former spokespersons and communications advisors, examines how Kofi Annan tackled a specific crisis and its relevance to today’s world and challenges. Kofi Annan’s call to bring all stakeholders around the table – including the private sector, local authorities, civil society organisations, academia, and scientists – resonates now more than ever with so many who understand that governments alone cannot shape our future.
In the first 10-part series, Ahmad Fawzi interviews some of Kofi Annan’s closest advisors and colleagues including Dr Peter Piot, Christiane Amanpour, Mark Malloch-Brown, Michael Møller, and more. Kofi Time is available on the Kofi Annan Foundation website, SoundCloud, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts.