The Elders


Building a culture of inclusivity in a diverse society

Press release

The Elders urge SADC leaders to support smooth transition in Zimbabwe


The Elders - Mission Statement

Who are The Elders?


What can we do to change the gender equation?


"If we hold back women, we hold back society"


We need to think differently about women


Elders in Iran: encouraging openness and trust


The Every Human Has Rights campaign launches!


The Elders' visit to Cyprus


Encouraging the path of peace for Sudan and South Sudan


Inspiring positive action for Mandela Day


Five years of working together for peace and human rights: The Elders in London


Finding resilience in a fragile place: the Elders visit Yusuf Batil


“You are going to succeed where we failed”: the Elders meet the ‘Youngers’


“My life, my decision: stop child marriage”


Mission to Sudan


The making of The Elders' documentary


Towards an end to child marriage


Healing divisions, finding common ground in Côte d'Ivoire

Desmond Tutu

“People like the Elders are not here to lead change, or end wars. They are here to remind you that wars can be ended.”

Anti-apartheid leader

“Perhaps oppression dehumanises the oppressor as much as, if not more than, the oppressed. They need each other to become truly free, to become human.”

Nobel Peace Laureate

“To talk about ‘ethical leadership’ is to speak from experience, not because you were a perfect leader but because you were thrust into difficult situations – stirring hatred or calling for cool heads, igniting a war or enshrining peace, reaching out to the poor or assuming they will perish. And maybe you helped to see humanity prevail.”

Healing South Africa’s wounds

“Forgiveness is not just an altruistic act, but one born of self-interest. Forgiveness helps give people the resilience to survive and remain human in the face of all efforts to dehumanise them.”

The ‘world’s moral conscience’

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

Desmond Tutu biography

Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, Nobel Peace Laureate and Honorary Elder; a veteran anti-apartheid activist and peace campaigner widely regarded as ‘South Africa’s moral conscience’.
  • Founding member and Chair of The Elders 2007-2013
  • Nobel Peace Laureate 1984
  • Chair of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission
"Despite all of the ghastliness in the world, human beings are made for goodness. The ones that are held in high regard are not militarily powerful, nor even economically prosperous. They have a commitment to try and make the world a better place."
View all articles by Desmond Tutu

Nelson Mandela

(1918-2013) Founder

Former President of South Africa and Nobel Peace Laureate; a leader who dedicated his life to the anti-apartheid struggle, democracy and equality; founder of The Elders.

Martti Ahtisaari

Former President of Finland; Nobel Peace Laureate and expert in international peace mediation, diplomacy and post-conflict state building.

Kofi Annan

Chair of The Elders

Former UN Secretary-General, Nobel Peace Laureate and Chair of The Elders; put development, human rights, the rule of law, good governance and peace at the top of the United Nations agenda.

Ela Bhatt

The ‘gentle revolutionary’; a pioneer in women’s empowerment and grassroots development, founder of the more than 1 million-strong Self-Employed Women’s Association in India.

Lakhdar Brahimi

Former Algerian freedom fighter, Foreign Minister, conflict mediator and UN diplomat; an expert in peacekeeping and post-conflict reconstruction.

Gro Harlem Brundtland

Deputy Chair of The Elders

First woman Prime Minister of Norway and Deputy Chair of The Elders; a medical doctor who champions health as a human right; put sustainable development on the international agenda.

Fernando H Cardoso

Honorary Elder

Former President of Brazil; implemented major land reform programme, reduced poverty and significantly improved health and education; an acclaimed sociologist and global advocate for drug policy reform.

Jimmy Carter

Honorary Elder

Former President of the United States, Nobel Peace Laureate and veteran peace negotiator; dedicated to advancing peace, democracy and health worldwide.

Hina Jilani

Pioneering lawyer and pro-democracy campaigner; a leading activist in Pakistan's women's movement and international champion of human rights.

Ricardo Lagos

Former President of Chile; tenacious fighter for democracy and human rights; implemented health reform; and reduced economic inequality while diversifying Chile’s external trade in the era of globalisation.

Graça Machel

International advocate for women’s and children's rights; former freedom fighter and first Education Minister of Mozambique.

Mary Robinson

First woman President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; a passionate, forceful advocate for gender equality, women’s participation in peace-building and human dignity.

Ernesto Zedillo

Former President of Mexico who led profound democratic and social reforms; economist and advocate of multilateralism, inclusive globalisation, nuclear non-proliferation and drug policy reform.

Desmond Tutu

Honorary Elder

Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, Nobel Peace Laureate and Honorary Elder; a veteran anti-apartheid activist and peace campaigner widely regarded as ‘South Africa’s moral conscience’.


Gaza students meet the Elders


Desmond Tutu: "You all humble us"


Supporting peaceful Palestinian protest


“Wonderful young people. They uplift you”


Discussion with the Elders on building trust


Pillars of Peace Hawaii: how can young people become ethical leaders?


Creating a just global community – join the debates


The Elders are independent global leaders, brought together by Nelson Mandela, who offer their collective influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity.

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