7 August 2000


The Secretary-General arrived in Accra, Ghana, on Saturday evening, 29 July. He was met at the airport by the head of State of the Republic of Ghana, Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings.

In answer to questions on conflict prevention from journalists at the airport, the Secretary-General, after reiterating that "prevention is always better than cure ... and that it is very much an essential part of our work", said that the "sad part is, when conflicts are prevented, the press don't get to write about it. How do you ascertain whether there would have been a conflict or not”? He added, "this is the problem we have, but when it blows up and the blood begins to spill, the cameras are there and everybody is there".

The Secretary-General's official visit to Ghana, his native country, began on Tuesday morning, 1 August, when he and Nane Annan attended a ceremony at the Kwame Nkrumah mausoleum, where they laid a wreath at the statue of Kwame Nkrumah, the first President of independent Ghana. Accompanying them on a tour of the site was Francis Nkrumah, son of the late President. The Secretary-General later spoke to the media.

The Secretary-General then proceeded to a meeting with President Rawlings at his office at The Castle in Accra. Their discussions focused primarily on the situation in Sierra Leone.

On Tuesday evening, the Secretary-General was decorated by President Rawlings with the Order of the Star of Ghana -- the country's highest decoration -- in recognition of his "valiant commitment to social justice for all peoples ... and efforts to achieve peace, security and tranquillity worldwide". The ceremony took place at a gala dinner in the State Banquet Hall hosted by the President and Mrs. Rawlings. The President placed a ceremonial sash of green, yellow and red around the Secretary-General, conferring the honour, after James Victor Gbeho, Foreign Minister of Ghana, read a citation.

On Wednesday morning, the Secretary-General commissioned and cut the sod for the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre at the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College at Teshie. The ceremony began with the Secretary-General reviewing an Air Force Guard of Honour. He then proceeded to the future grounds of the Centre where Minister of Defence Lieutenant Colonel Ekt Donkoh (Rtd) and the Secretary-General addressed the gathering (see Press Release SG/SM/7500). The Secretary-General then turned the sod for the Centre and planted and watered a tree. Speaking to the press after the event, he said that "a good peacekeeper is a well-trained and well-equipped peacekeeper". He added that the Centre will be open to troops from other African nations, preparing them for action on "our own continent and eventually for participation in peacekeeping operations around the world".

In the afternoon, he received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Ghana, Legon (see Press Release SG/SM/7502), and later spoke to the media.

Following the conclusion of his official visit, the Secretary-General remained in Ghana on a private visit.

For information media. Not an official record.