Kofi Annan has been a member of The Elders since its founding in 2007, succeeding Desmond Tutu as Chair in May 2013. Between February and August 2012 Kofi Annan temporarily recused himself as a member of The Elders during his UN and Arab League assignment as Joint Special Envoy on the Syrian crisis.
He helped focus the world’s attention on Zimbabwe’s humanitarian crisis in November 2008 in a high-profile visit to the region with Jimmy Carter and Graça Machel. The following year he and the Elders persuaded international donors to expand humanitarian aid to Zimbabwe.
In late April 2011, following months of post-election violence, Mr Annan, Mary Robinson and Desmond Tutu travelled to Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, to encourage reconciliation. After meeting President Ouattara, civil society representatives, members of the opposition and people who had fled their homes in the fighting, he warned that much of Ivorian society remained polarised and stressed that the new government’s role was to ensure the safety and security of all Ivorians. In October 2013, Kofi Annan, Mary Robinson and Desmond Tutu revisited Cote d’Ivoire to assess the progress made in the recovery of the country and discuss the challenges it faces ahead of the 2015 elections. The group affirmed the need to immediately prepare for the elections with integrity to ensure a further conflict does not start. In October 2013, Mr Annan returned to Cote d’Ivoire where he met with a number of interlocutors, encouraging them to step up efforts for reconciliation.
In January 2014, Kofi Annan led The Elders visit to Iran, aiming to encourage dialogue between Iran and the international community and promote peaceful solutions to conflict and sectarian divisions in the region. The Elders discussed easing of regional tensions, the spread of extremist violence internationally, the issue of human rights and the Syrian crisis, as well as supporting progress being made in the international negotiations over Iran’s nuclear programme.
Kofi Annan led The Elders delegation to Moscow in April 2015. Along with Martti Ahtisaari, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Lakhdar Brahimi, Jimmy Carter and Ernesto Zedillo, Mr Annan spoke to Russian officials about key geopolitical issues. During the trip, The Elders met with President Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, as well as former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.