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Kofi Annan: Working for Peace

Since 1945, the United Nations (UN) has worked to stop wars, help the poor, and protect children. For this work, the UN and one of its past leaders, former Secretary-General Kofi Annan, won the Nobel (noh BEL) Peace Prize in 2001. The prize is given to a person or group that works for world peace. Weekly Reader interviewed Annan.

Weekly Reader (WR): What is your job like?

Kofi Annan: I have to try to . . . [get] people who are fighting to make peace. I meet many different people in my job, powerful people, like kings and presidents, and people who have very little power, like those who are homeless or those who are very young.

WR: What is it like to win the Nobel Peace Prize?

Annan: Getting the Nobel Peace Prize—which I shared with the UN—was . . . [wonderful]. But I also felt it was a challenge for us to do more and to do better to help the world.

WR: What is the toughest part of your job?

Annan: It can be difficult to bring [people] together and make sure that they stop fighting. But thinking of all those who are suffering in wars pushes me to continue. There is another fight that is very important, the fight against poverty [being poor]. Half the world lives on less than two dollars a day. You need more than that for children to grow up healthy and get a really good education.

WR: How many countries have you visited?

Annan: I have visited dozens of countries, more than you can count on your hands and toes.

WR: What can children in the United States do to help children in other parts of the world?

Annan: Children should realize that what happens in one part of the world affects other parts [of the world]. So if you want to help the world, you can start by being friendly to your brothers and sisters, or by cleaning up when your parents ask you to, or by smiling at a friend. All of these actions help make the world a better place.