The Elders

Jimmy Carter

“One of the basic requirements of an Elder is that we are political has-beens – we no longer have power. So we have the ability to represent the principles that do not change, like peace and freedom and justice. The Elders, individually and collectively, go where we please, meet with whom we choose, and say what we believe."

Former US President

“We kept our country at peace. We never went to war. We never dropped a bomb. We never fired a bullet. But still we achieved our international goals."

Nobel Peace Laureate

“War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other’s children”

Advocate for Middle East peace

“Peace deals were possible in 1978 and 1993. They still are today, but time is running out and hard decisions need to be made very soon.”

Challenging patriarchy

“The abuse of women and girls is the most pervasive and unaddressed human rights violation on earth.”

Jimmy Carter biography

Former President of the United States, Nobel Peace Laureate and veteran peace negotiator; dedicated to advancing peace, democracy and health worldwide.
  • 39th President of the United States of America 1977-1981
  • Nobel Peace Laureate 2002
  • Founder of the Carter Center
  • Author of 28 books
"We need to form partnerships with people and organisations already there, doing outstanding work."
  • Work with The Elders

    A forthright and principled advocate for human rights and democracy, President Carter has been a member of The Elders since its founding in 2007. In October that year he joined The Elders’ mission to Sudan, highlighting the continuing atrocities and the displacement of millions of people in Darfur. He returned to Khartoum in May 2012 as part of a two-stage visit to the region to encourage dialogue between Sudan and South Sudan.

    In November 2008, after a group of Elders was denied entry to Zimbabwe, President Carter expressed deep disappointment at the years of corruption, mismanagement and oppression by Zimbabwe’s leadership and called on the international community to respond urgently to the escalating humanitarian crisis in the country.

    He joined The Elders’ delegations to the Middle East in August 2009 and October 2010, travelling to Israel, the West Bank, Egypt, Jordan and Syria to support efforts to advance an Arab-Israeli peace.

    President Carter has visited Cyprus twice as part of The Elders’ efforts to promote peaceful coexistence between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, and is featured in The Elders’ documentary about the search for missing persons on the island.

    In April 2011, he led an Elders’ delegation to the Korean Peninsula and China with the aim of contributing to easing tensions between North and South Korea – still officially at war with each other for more than 60 years – and drawing attention to the humanitarian crisis in North Korea.

  • Early career

    Jimmy Carter trained and served as a naval officer but when Carter’s father died in 1953, he resigned his naval commission and returned to Plains, Georgia, to operate his family’s seed and farm supply company.

    He quickly became a prominent community leader, serving on several county boards before being elected to the Georgia Senate in 1962. In 1971, he became Georgia's 76th Governor.

  • 39th US President

    Jimmy Carter was elected President of the United States of America in 1976, serving from 1977 to 1981. He aspired to make the US government “competent and compassionate,” responsive to the American people and their expectations.

    During his time in office, President Carter became known as a champion of human rights and a peace-maker in international affairs. He negotiated the 1978 Camp David Accords and peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. He also negotiated the Panama Canal treaties in 1977, established US diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China, and negotiated the SALT II treaty with the Soviet Union – a long-term, comprehensive agreement limiting the development of nuclear weapons.

  • The Carter Center

    In 1982, President Carter became University Distinguished Professor at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and founded The Carter Center. Under his active guidance, this non-partisan and non-profit organisation works to resolve conflicts, advance democracy, protect human rights and improve health in over 70 countries.

    Among other achievements, the Carter Center has reduced the incidence of Guinea worm disease by more than 99 per cent, making it likely to be the second disease in history to be eliminated. It has also observed 83 elections in 34 countries to help establish and strengthen democracies. In January 2011, Jimmy Carter was joined by his fellow Elder Kofi Annan to lead the Carter Center observation mission on South Sudan’s independence referendum.

    Jimmy Carter received the Nobel Peace Prize in December 2002 for “his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development.” He is the only US President to be awarded the Prize after leaving office.

View all articles by Jimmy Carter

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

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

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.

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.

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’.

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.

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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