February 25, 2016 6:53 AM EST

Boutros Boutros-Ghali took the helm of the United Nations at a pivotal time. The end of the Cold War brought new hope, but we quickly realized this brave new world would be far more difficult to manage than we had imagined.

With characteristic directness and intellectual agility, Boutros sought to confront and overcome the complex challenges of the day. It was on his watch that the Agenda for Peace was launched, making the case for preventive diplomacy. He will be remembered for helping prepare the U.N. for a world where states would no longer be able to control or suppress the forces and furies that ensnare them.

Annan, a former U.N. Secretary-General, is the chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation

This appears in the March 07, 2016 issue of TIME.

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