The year 2022 was significant as it witnessed the demise of some of the most popular and noteworthy leaders and politicians across the world. These leaders came from various backgrounds and shaped world affairs during their prime. From UK’s Queen Elizbeth to Mikhail Gorbachev, these people remained highly influential in the course of their lifetime, leaving a mark in their respective nation’s political scenario.
The world also lost three former world leaders — former Mexican President Luis Echeverria Alvarez, former Chinese President Jiang Zemin and former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was assassinated at age 67.
In this article, we look back at the lives and legacies left behind by some of the year’s most high-profile deaths.
Queen Elizabeth II: No other death in 2022 triggered as much of international outpouring of mourning like the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, the longest reigning monarch of Britain. Aged 96, the queen died at the Balmoral on September 8, 2022. She was just 25 when her father died, taking the mantle of Queen on February 6, 1952.
During her reign, Britain saw vast changes in its role in the world and many British colonies won their independence.
Elizabeth became the longest-reigning British monarch in history in 2015 after surpassing her great-great-grandmother Victoria’s record of 63 years. In February 2022, Britain celebrated her 70 years on the throne with a platinum jubilee.
Shinzo Abe: The longest serving Prime Minister of Japan was shot dead at the age of 67 during a rally on July 8. Abe, also the first prime minister born after World War, is best remembered for revitalising Japan’s economy through his “Abenomics” formula.
Abe is also credited for reinvigorating Japan’s role on the international scene. Even after leaving office in 2020, Abe remained one of the most powerful politicians in the country.
Mikhail Gorbachev: Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union who ended the Cold War, died on August 30 at the age of 91 “after a serious and long illness”. His decision not to mobilise the Soviet army when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 was seen as key to preserving Cold War peace and averting a possible Third World War.
Gorbachev led the Soviet Union from 1985 until its collapse in 1991, leading to the establishment of the modern Russian state.
In 1990, Gorbachev, the eighth leader of the Soviet Union, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for bringing the Cold War to a peaceful end.
Madeleine Albright: The first woman to serve as the US secretary of state passed away on March 23 at the age of 84.
Under former President Bill Clinton, she became the US representative to the United Nations (1993-97) and secretary of state (1997-2001), making her the highest-ranking woman in the history of American government at the time.
Albright helmed the US State Department in the post-Cold War world in which the US had emerged as the single superpower. She lead crucial discussions with world leaders on arms control, trade, terrorism and championed the expansion of NATO.
Most notable of her efforts inlcuded bringing about an end to violence in the Balkans. She also played a major role in pushing Clinton to intervene in Kosovo in 1999 to prevent a genocide against ethnic Muslims.
Jiang Zemin: Former Chinese president Jiang Zemin, who came to power after the Tiananmen Square protests, died at 96 due to leukaemia and multiple organ failure. He served as President from 1993 to 2003.
After the Tiananmen crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in 1989, Zemin played a crucial role in bringing China out its diplomatic isolation and mending fences with the United States.
He pushed market reforms and engineered China’s entry into the World Trade Organization, resulting in double digit economic growth. This transformed China and made it a global economic power.
Luis Echeverria Alvarez: Former Mexican President Luis Echeverria Alvarez died aged 100 in July. Echeverria was known for his authoritarian and repressive character before his presidency in 1970.
During his reign, Alvarez made Mexico’s international relations a priority and was known for promoting the Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States at the United Nations in 1972. He also initiated the establishment of diplomatic relations with China in February 1972.