The Elders

Press release

The Elders call for strengthening of the United Nations

Fit for purpose in the 21st century

The Elders announce four proposals to build a better and fairer UN system, 70 years after the organisation was founded.

MUNICH – Speaking at the Munich Security Conference today, The Elders announced four recommendations for strengthening the United Nations, including a review of the composition of its Security Council.

This is the first time The Elders have attended the internationally-renowned Munich Security Conference. At a time of worsening tensions in the Middle East, Ukraine and other conflict zones, the need for credible and effective international governance is stronger than ever and Munich is the right place and right time to make the case for strengthening the UN.

Seventy years since its foundation, the UN is still not delivering its Charter pledge “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”. The organisation is seen as not truly representative of all member states and insufficiently transparent in its decision-making.

To this end The Elders issue four proposals to build a better and fairer UN system. Key to this is breaking the Security Council stalemate. The dominance of the “P5” permanent members (US, UK, France, Russia and China) can lead to institutional deadlock and exclusion of the Global South. A new category of Security Council membership is needed: non-permanent members but who are immediately eligible for re-election, thus making them de facto permanent members if they secure the confidence of fellow member states.

P5 states must also be more responsible in using their veto, especially during a crisis where people are threatened with genocide or other atrocities. Beyond the veto, the Security Council should take care to regularly consult those people who are affected by its decisions, especially in conflict zones, and the whole UN should establish a more transparent and accountable system for choosing its next Secretary-General.

The full statement of The Elders’ proposals for strengthening the United Nations can be found at

Today’s call is the first step in a long-term initiative to secure meaningful change. The Elders are determined to keep up the pressure and make their voices heard from now until the election of the next UN Secretary-General.

The Elders are represented in Munich by their Chair, Kofi Annan; Deputy Chair Gro Harlem Brundtland; Martti Ahtisaari; and Graça Machel.

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Strengthening the UN

The UN has served the peoples for almost 70 years, but in the 21st century it needs fundamental changes.

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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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