President John Atta Mills will be remembered for consolidating his country's democratic and development achievements, and for the long dedicated service to his country.
A law professor by calling, and affectionately referred to as "the Prof." by his people, John Atta Mills earned a law degree from the University of Ghana in 1967 and a doctorate from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. He was also a Fulbright scholar at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.
President Atta Mills wrote extensively on taxation, and later was Ghana’s commissioner of internal revenue.
In President Atta Mills’s time in office, Ghana became a significant oil exporter with a stable and expanding economy.
In April 2008, Ghana had graciously and successfully hosted the UNCTAD XII conference which saw the adoption of the Accra Accord. Ghana served for the next four years as President of the Conference, three of which were under the Presidency of His Excellency John Atta Mills.
The late President was scheduled to attend the UNCTAD XIII conference in Doha, Qatar in April of this year to hand over the presidency of UNCTAD to Qatar. But due to other engagements, including one for medical reasons, the late President was not able to attend.
He was represented at the opening ceremony by Her Excellency Hannah Tetteh, the Minister of Trade and Industry, who read out a stirring statement on behalf of President John Atta Mills championing the mandates of UNCTAD.
President Atta Mills is survived by his wife, Ernestina Naadu Mills, and their son, Sam.
The close association of UNCTAD with Ghana dates back to when Mr. Kenneth K.S. Dadzie served as Secretary-General of UNCTAD from 1 January 1986 to 31 March 1994.
Mr. Dadzie had been Ghana's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office in Geneva while concurrently assigned as Ambassador to Austria and Switzerland.
Mr. Dadzie was appointed to lead UNCTAD in 1986, at a time when multilateralism was being put into question and when political commitment towards development was faltering. He was instrumental in the adoption of the Final Act of UNCTAD VII in Geneva in 1987 which brought about a new consensus on international development cooperation thereby breaking through the barriers of the North-South divide. He also steered the organization towards a revival, leading to a New Partnership for Development adopted at UNCTAD VIII in 1992 in Cartagena de Indias, Columbia.
Another former Permanent Representative of Ghana in Geneva, Mr. Kwabena Baah-duodu, has served during periods between 2009-12 as senior adviser and acting chef-de-cabinet of current UNCTAD Secretary-General Supachai.
The new President of Ghana, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama, attended the 2nd World Investment Forum organised by UNCTAD in Xiamen, China, in 2010 in his capacity as the then Vice-President. The 1st World Investment Forum had been held in Accra, Ghana in 2008.