Based on an initiative by Richard Branson and Peter Gabriel, Nelson Mandela announced the formation of The Elders in July 2007 in Johannesburg on the occasion of his 89th birthday. Members of The Elders are: Martti Ahtisaari, Kofi Annan, Ela Bhatt, Lakhdar Brahimi, Gro Brundtland, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Jimmy Carter, Graça Machel, Mary Robinson and Desmond Tutu (Chair).
The Elders are a group of global leaders, brought together by Nelson Mandela, who use their collective experience and influence to promote peace, justice and human rights worldwide.
They include the former holders of some of the world’s most important and demanding posts, and individuals with an extraordinary track record on peace-making, reconciliation and social change.
Independent of government and no longer holding public office, the Elders are helping tackle some of the world’s most intractable problems, through both private advocacy and public work.
The Elders work strategically, focusing on areas where they are uniquely placed to make a difference.
The Elders work both publicly and behind the scenes and at all levels – local, national and international – to promote peace-building, address root causes of conflict, stimulate dialogue and promote justice and human rights. They reach decision makers at the highest level.
Committed to listening to ordinary people affected by crisis and conflict, especially women and young people and those who struggle to be heard, the Elders seek to empower all those who are working to achieve positive change. Equity, gender equality and respect for human rights are core themes of their activities.
Where do the Elders work?
The Elders work globally, on thematic as well as geographically specific subjects.
In their peace-building work, they have identified the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Korean Peninsula, and Sudan and South Sudan, as priority areas. They are also paying close attention to Côte d’Ivoire, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, and the unrest and dramatic political change affecting parts of the Middle East and North Africa.
The thematic issues on the Elders’ agenda are equity, sustainable development and equality for girls and women. As part of the latter initiative, the Elders created Girls Not Brides, a new global partnership that brings together international agencies and grassroots organisations committed to ending child marriage – a practice that is a major hindrance to development, affecting an estimated 10 million girls a year worldwide.
Celebrity supporters 11
The Elders has received support from the following celebrities listed on this site: