Tribute to Edward Mortimer, CHRI's International Board member and former aide to the late Kofi Annan, UN SG
Edward Mortimer, former CHRI International Board member, journalist, speech writer to the late Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General, author and member of All Souls College, Oxford University, has passed away in England, aged 77.
With a mop of grey hair crowning his tall figure, Edward Mortimer was till January 2007, the Director of Communications in the Executive Office of Kofi Annan. He was earlier the chief foreign affairs commentator of the Financial Times.
He was a brilliant student who topped his class in Oxford and could have easily chosen a career in academics. But he chose not to and dived into journalism, first as a junior reporter for the Times covering the 1968 student revolt in France. He later found time to write a seminal book on the country. Soon after he was snapped up by the Times' iconic editor, William Rees-Mogg, to join its powerful group of leader writers before moving to the Financial Times as one of its top analysts and commentators on international affairs.
"When I last spoke to him, he was, as always, warm, generous and reflective," said CHRI's International Director Sanjoy Hazarika. "Edward had an encyclopedic knowledge of the UN and its systems but also of many issues around the world and was the author of four books, a cerebral person who carried his wisdom lightly."
Mortimer was Senior Vice President of The Salzburg Global Seminar, and a member of the Advisory Council of Independent Diplomat. Mortimer was appointed Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in the 2010 New Year Honours. A member of CHRI's International Board, Edward gave sound advice to the Board and worked closely with the directors of the organization before stepping down in 2019.
In a tribute to him, the Financial Times wrote: "As a journalist, author, academic and international civil servant, Mortimer managed to combine an extraordinary variety of careers, with a consistent theme that linked them all: he had a passion for the defence of human rights and the protection of minorities, the resolution of conflicts and the promotion of greater understanding between countries and communities.
The obituary quoted Lord Chris Patten: "The first thing people think about Edward is how clever he was.” Patten was an immediate contemporary and life-long friend. “That was true. He was much the cleverest of our generation. But he was much more than that. He was a good, decent, likeable, generous guy with sensible views on almost everything.”