Lectures from the Kofi Annan Series
May 2013
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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.

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

Abiodun Williams

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.

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