Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary-general who won the Nobel Peace Prize for humanitarian work, has died at the age of 80, according to officials.
Annan died at a hospital in Bern, Switzerland, in the early hours.
A statement by the Kofi Annan Foundation, published on twitter said he died on Saturday of a "short illness". Adding that his wife Nane and three children were by his side during his last days.
Annan was of Ghanian nationality and served as the seventh UN chief for almost 10 years.
He was the first black African to take up the role, which he served from 1997-2006, and the first secretary-general to emerge from the ranks of United Nations staff.
His tenure as the UN coincided with the Iraq war, during which he was critical of the US for its involvement.
Annan was criticised for the UN's failure to halt the genocide in Rwanda in the 90's.
He later served as the UN special envoy for Syria and led efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.
His Foundation said he was a "global statesman and deeply committed internationalist who fought throughout his life for a fairer and more peaceful world".
"Wherever there was suffering or need, he reached out and touched many people with his deep compassion and empathy. He selflessly placed others first, radiating genuine kindness, warmth and brilliance in all he did."
'A great African, a great leader of the world'
Leaders from across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas were quick to pay tribute to the humanitarian as news of his death broke on Saturday morning.
Acting UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said: “Kofi Annan was the United Nations. He rose through the ranks to lead the organization into the new millennium with matchless dignity and determination.”
British PM Theresa May hailed Annan as “a great leader and reformer of the UN”, France’s Emmanuel Macron commended his “calm and resolute approach” to crises, and US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, championed his “compassion and dedication” to diplomacy.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel added: “(He) knew how to get people engaged, and became a role model, especially for young people all over the world.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin lauded Annan, describing him as a “remarkable person and great politician”.
“I sincerely admired his wisdom and courage, his ability to make balanced decisions even in the most difficult, critical situations,” he added.
Ghana’s president Nana Akufo-Addo honoured the native’s star status in international politics and diplomacy, saying “Mr. Kofi Annan was the first from sub-Saharan Africa to occupy this exalted position. He brought considerable renown to our country by this position and through his conduct and comportment in the global arena”.
Kenyan opposition leader and former prime minister Raila Odinga championed him as “a great African, a great leader of the world” and commended his role in diffusing tensions following national elections in 2007, when over 1,200 people died in ethnic massacres.
“Kofi Annan was able to bring the different factions in our country together,” he said.