U.S. Institute of Peace Press

Lectures from the Kofi Annan Series

(click for larger cover)

$29.95 $24.00 (Paperback)

USIP Press Books
May 2013
144 pp. , 6" x 9"

I am convinced that the language that has the most force, that requires the more acumen, talent, grace, genius, and, yes, beauty, can never be again be found in paeans to the glory of war or erotic rallying cries to battle. The power of this alternative language does not arise from the tiresome, wasteful art of war, but, rather, from the demanding, brilliant art of peace.
Toni Morrison

The United Nations wrestles daily with questions of peace and security, sustainable development, human rights, the rule of law, good governance, and humanitarian assistance. But at root, the UN’s work is about mobilizing efforts to serve humanity. Kofi Annan, the UN’s seventh secretary general, recognized a role in these efforts beyond that of diplomats and peacekeepers. He engaged not only the governments of the UN’s 193 member states but also academics, artists, and other opinion shapers, aware of their enormous potential as advocates and valued partners in achieving the goals of the UN. As part of this initiative, in 2002 he established the Secretary-General’s Lecture Series.

The Brilliant Art of Peace presents lectures delivered by seventeen of the world’s most eminent thinkers, including several Nobel laureates, during Annan’s tenure. The lectures challenge prevailing thinking on important issues such as globalization, human rights, identity, religion, science and technology, economics, the humanities, language, music, and the United Nations. The reader will find humor, moral rigor, and wit in this thought-provoking and timeless collection. A must-have for any reader interested in the human condition.


Abiodun Williams was recently named president of The Hague Institute for Global Justice. Prior to this role, he was senior vice president of the Center of Conflict Management (CCM) where he led USIP's work in major conflict zones such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, the Middle East, and North Africa. Previously he also served as director of strategic planning in the Executive Office of the UN Secretary-General during the last six months of Kofi Annan's first term and during the entire five years of his second term.


  • Foreword - Kofi A. Annan
  • Introduction - Abiodun Williams
  • Part I. Literature and Music
  • The Humanities after 9/11 - Toni Morrison
  • The Use of Language in War and Peace - Chinua Achebe and Paul Muldoon
  • Why Music Matters? - Leon Botstein
  • Part II. Economics and Human Rights
  • Globalization: Winners and Losers - Jagdish Bhagwati, Jeffrey Sachs, and Joseph Stiglitz
  • Who Is Afraid of Human Rights? - Ali Mazrui and William F. Schulz
  • Part III. Identity and Religion
  • Identity in the Twenty-First Century - Amartya Sen and Kwame Anthony Appiah
  • God's Word and World Politics - Desmond Tutu
  • Islam and the West - Seyyed Hossein Nasr
  • Part IV. Science and Technology
  • Designer Genes: The Ethics of Modern Genetics - Eric Wieschaus
  • Genetically Modified Crops for Developed Countries - Daphne Preuss and Jennifer Thomson
  • Part V. United Nations
  • Act of Creation: The Founding of the United Nations - Stephen Schlesinger

Related Titles

See our list of new and forthcoming titles.