The Elders

Lakhdar Brahimi

"We’re extremely careful not to claim that we’re going to take a problem and solve it. What we’re saying is that from time to time, in certain situations, a problem needs a little push."

Algerian freedom fighter and diplomat

“I understand very much the people who rise against injustice. I understand even the excesses that can happen once you start fighting against injustice – not to condone it, but to understand how you get there.”

Veteran UN mediator

“You cannot fight your way to peace; sitting down with your adversary and negotiating is the only way to resolve conflict and prevent further bloodshed." 

Peacekeeping expert

“Never in my career have I felt that a situation is hopeless or that change is impossible. Despite the uncertainty that change will bring, there is nothing to fear from seeking genuine and lasting peace.”

Lakhdar Brahimi biography

Former Algerian freedom fighter, Foreign Minister, conflict mediator and UN diplomat; an expert in peacekeeping and post-conflict reconstruction.
  • Fought for Algerian independence 
  • Algerian Foreign Minister 1991-1993
  • UN Special Representative in Afghanistan 2001-2004
  • UN Special Envoy in Iraq 2004
  • Joint Special Representative of the UN and Arab League for Syria 2012-2014
"We’re extremely careful not to claim that we’re going to take a problem and solve it. What we’re saying is that from time to time, in certain situations, a problem needs a little push."
  • Work with The Elders

    A respected and pragmatic negotiator, Lakhdar Brahimi has been a member of The Elders since the group was founded in 2007.

    He travelled to Sudan with The Elders in October that year, drawing attention to the victims of violence in Darfur. He returned to Khartoum in May 2012 to meet President Omar al-Bashir, as part of a two-stage Elders visit to the region to encourage a return to dialogue between Sudan and South Sudan.

    As part of The Elders’ work to promote Middle East peace, Mr Brahimi joined the most recent Elders’ delegation to the region, visiting Gaza, Egypt, Syria and Jordan in October 2010. In meetings with UN officials, civil society and political leaders, he repeated his call for an end to occupation and stressed the need to work towards a two-state solution.

    Lakhdar Brahimi has visited Cyprus three times to promote peace between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. He features in The Elders’ documentary about the search for people who are still missing following the violence of the 1960s and 1970s – Cyprus: Digging the Past in Search of the Future – in which he discusses the difficulties of forgiveness with The Elders’ chair, Archbishop Tutu.

    In December 2014, Lakhdar Brahimi joined The Elders’ delegation to Myanmar where they met with representatives from the government, the military and civil society including ethnic women’s groups. The Elders called on the warring parties to end their fighting and discussed opportunities for building a new and inclusive federal state, including the 2015 election.

    Lakhdar Brahimi joined The Elders delegation to Moscow in April 2015. Led by Kofi Annan, Mr Brahimi along with Martti Ahtisaari, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Jimmy Carter and Ernesto Zedillo visited Russia to discuss 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.

  • Algerian nationalist and diplomat

    After Algeria’s war of independence broke out in 1954, Lakhdar Brahimi left his studies in Paris in 1956 to join his country’s liberation struggle. At the age of 22 he represented the National Liberation Front in Southeast Asia, a position he held for five years.

    Following Algerian independence from France in 1962, Mr Brahimi held several diplomatic roles including Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Egypt and Sudan, and Permanent Representative to the Arab League in Cairo.

    In 1989, as an Arab League Special Envoy, he brokered the Taif Agreement that brought Lebanon’s seventeen-year long civil war to an end. Between 1991 and 1993 he was Algerian Minister for Foreign Affairs.

  • UN peace-maker

    Lakhdar Brahimi has worked to resolve conflict and build peace in some of the most troubled regions in the world. He led the United Nations Observer Mission during the 1994 democratic elections in South Africa that brought Nelson Mandela to power. He was sent to help end Yemen’s civil war in 1994, and served as Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Haiti until 1996. Mr Brahimi also served as UN Special Envoy to the Democratic Republic of Congo (then Zaïre), Sudan, Burundi, Liberia, Nigeria, Angola and Côte d’Ivoire.

    As Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2004, he was responsible for overseeing all political, human rights, relief, recovery and reconstruction activities in the country. Mr Brahimi also served as the Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Afghanistan between 1997 and 1999.

    In 2004 he served as UN Special Envoy in Iraq, and was Joint Special Representative of the UN and Arab League for Syria from 2012-2014.

  • The Brahimi Report

    In between his Afghanistan assignments, Lakhdar Brahimi chaired an independent panel established by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to review United Nations peacekeeping operations.

    Known as the ‘Brahimi Report’, the panel’s findings were released in 2000 and assessed the shortcomings of the existing system of peacekeeping – criticising in particular the UN’s failure to respond to the atrocities in Rwanda in 1994 and Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1995. The report made several recommendations for reform, including the need for clear, achievable mandates and the importance of better consultation and cooperation with countries contributing troops to peacekeeping missions.

View all articles by Lakhdar Brahimi

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

Elder Emeritus

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

Elder Emeritus

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

Elder Emeritus

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.

Desmond Tutu

Elder Emeritus

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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