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Elders in South Africa for ethical leadership debate

“It’s important that you don’t just speak truth to power, but you also show wisdom to power.” Hina Jilani

The Elders, together with Al Jazeera’s South2North programme, held a public debate this week in Cape Town asking, "What is ethical leadership?"

Ten Elders in Cape Town

The Elders with Redi Tlhabi at the debate in Cape Town, South Africa. L-R: Desmond Tutu, Hina Jilani, Martti Ahtisaari, Redi Tlhabi, Jimmy Carter, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Kofi Annan and Mary Robinson

During their biannual meeting in Cape Town, The Elders hosted a debate on ethical leadership in the 21st century. Moderated by South African journalist Redi Tlhabi, the Elders answered questions from the audience on some of the biggest challenges facing the world today.

In the first of two back-to-back panel discussions, Kofi Annan, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Hina Jilani and Desmond Tutu tackled issues around peacebuilding, reconciliation and global governance.

What are the root causes of conflict? How can we build sustainable peace? And what would The Elders’ vision of a just and inclusive global community look like?

For Archbishop Tutu, an ethical leader is someone who puts the needs of the people above his or her own interests. Reflecting on the situation in South Africa, he spoke of the “deep hurt” that compels him to speak out against the desperate poverty and inequality he witnesses in South African society.

Hina Jilani, who joined The Elders in July 2013, described The Elders’ independence as one of the reasons she was attracted to the group. “It is a rare thing,” she said, “to establish a group of people who have experience in power or public office… [with] no stake or interest apart from the interest of humanity. It is very important to me that you don’t just speak truth to power, but that you also show wisdom to power.” During Wednesday’s debate she also discussed the challenges of achieving transitional justice in post-conflict situations:

Martti Ahtisaari, Jimmy Carter and Mary Robinson made up the second panel on justice, equity and human rights. They discussed leadership in Africa, the credibility of the International Criminal Court, and the potential for protest movements to bring about a more equitable world.

The debate, which took place on 30 October at the District Six Museum in Cape Town, was broadcast in two parts on Al Jazeera’s South2North programme on 1 and 8 November.

Watch part one, featuring Kofi Annan, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Hina Jilani and Desmond Tutu, and part two, with Martti Ahtisaari, Jimmy Carter and Mary Robinson.

Follow the discussion on Twitter using the hashtag #EldersS2N.

The Elders' ethical leadership debate on Al Jazeera's South2North programme.

On the Web
At this point honesty would do.. "@TheElders: What are the qualities of an ethical leader – wisdom? Humility? Compassion?... #EldersS2N"
If u don't deal with the past - no sustainable peace. No peace without justice & justice cannot be vindictiveness. Hina Jilani #EldersS2N
"To be bold, to have the courage of your convictions and to think long-term" Gro H Brundtland on what makes an ethical leader #EldersS2N
It's complicated to be a good president in Africa because of weak institutions - Martti Ahtisaari #elderss2n @TheElders @AJSouth2North
#EldersS2N is off to a lovely start :) Desmond Tutu has everyone in stitches :)
I would like to ask The Elders 'What are they doing to ensure young leaders are raised to be The Elders of tomorrow? #EldersS2N
Sm1 who speaks n resonates with our highest aspirations, n ignites our motivation to live up to our full potential.#GraçaMachel #EldersS2N
"We are all responsible for addressing climate change before future generations are hit." Gro H Brundtland at Cape Town debate #EldersS2N
Some conflict situations are so shameful that we can not stand back - Kofi Annan #R2P @AJSouth2North #elderss2n @TheElders
Last Wednesday in Cape Town, the Elders debated ethical leadership. Tell us: are there ethical leaders that inspire you today? #EldersS2N
@RediTlhabi you were fantastic as the host and moderator at the @AJSouth2North panel discussion tonight with @TheElders #EldersS2N
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Martti Ahtisaari says it's harder for African leaders to excel without strong institutions | Tonight #EldersS2N
"It is out of a deep hurt and deep love for people that we as @TheElders act" - Desmund Tutu @AJSouth2North #elderss2n
@TheElders #EldersS2N #IqbalAsaria CBE and his work on the #MoralEconomy stands out for me.
What are the qualities of an ethical leader – wisdom? Humility? Compassion? Tell us what you think #EldersS2N
Ethical leaders are there for the people, not for themselves - Desmond Tutu #EldersS2N
Even with the best elections, "what matters is how leaders behave after they gain power." Martti Ahtisaari #EldersS2N http://t.co/IkJYN2xr…
We can't leave it only to governments, civil society has many of the solutions - Hina Jilani #elderss2n @AJSouth2North @TheElders
How can we encourage leaders who put common human values above their own interests? #EldersS2N
UCT student asks if the government in Kenya was guilty of a lack of leadership in the #Westgate attacks #EldersS2N
If you don't deal with the past, peace will never be sustainable. You need transitional justice to move forward. Hina Jilani #EldersS2N
Ethical leadership is about doing what is right - Kofi Annan @TheElders @AJSouth2North #elderss2n
"We need leaders like @NelsonMandela," Desmond Tutu said at last week's #EldersS2N debate on ethical leadership. Which leaders inspire you?
"When he founded The Elders, Madiba simply told us to ‘be bold’ and speak truth to power." Desmond Tutu http://t.co/PSk1Ssj4… #EldersS2N
#KofiAnan: The framework is there for peace is the middle east however the political will is lacking! Too true!! #EldersS2N @AJSouth2North
The Elders are able to keep a distance to power and speak truth to power, says newest member of the group Hina Jilani #EldersS2N
Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson on the #ICC & if Africa is being singled out | Tonight on #S2N #EldersS2N http://t.co/xmcB7J3a…
Former US President Jimmy Carter talks on #Egypt and why democracies need time to grow #EldersS2N | Tonight on #South2North
On @AJSouth2North Redi Tlhabi speaks to The Elders about ethical leadership #EldersS2N | http://t.co/MuUUQmCJ…
Audience member asks if the @moibrahimfound's decision to not grant it's leadership award is a reflection of African leadership #EldersS2N
"Poor children everywhere should have same access to education as rich children." Jimmy Carter at Elders and @AJSouth2North event #EldersS2N
There is exemplary ethical leadership in #Africa (Mozambique, Bostwana, Cape Verde) - Mary Robinson @TheElders @AJSouth2North #elderss2n
@TheElders Our co-founder's @TEDxTransmedia talk on ethical storytelling may contribute to your #EldersS2N discussion http://t.co/dsFjpVSn…
Authenticity, Humility, Empowering, vulnerability, passion and real quality of situational leading. Leading out of who you are #EldersS2N
VIDEO: Hina Jilani @TheElders discusses the challenges of transitional justice http://t.co/ZJzjOT0J… #EldersS2N @AJSouth2North @RediTlhabi
Africans long for human dignity as much as Europeans or Americans - Mary Robinson #universalvalues @TheElders @AJSouth2North #elderss2n
"Peace and justice always go hand in hand," says @KofiAnnan to Cape Town audience #EldersS2N
"When @The Elders call people, they pick up the phone and listen to us" - Desmond Tutu @AJSouth2North #elderss2n

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