The Elders


Mandela’s vision for a better world

Mandela's vision for a better world

Press release

Fernando Henrique Cardoso steps down from The Elders


The Elders - Mission Statement

Who are The Elders?


Brazilian dreams


Fernando Henrique Cardoso: "Wherever democracy is at risk, there is Carter"



Israel and Palestine: the path to peace

Your message
We miss you very much, Nelson! I love you once again! Ban, tell us you do.
Kyle Quiat
Davao City

Bringing intergenerational dialogue to Rio+20

Fernando Henrique Cardoso

"The very nature of peace-making demands dealing with those you are fundamentally opposed to. We make peace with our enemies, not our friends."

Former President of Brazil

“Citizens have in themselves the inherent right to participate in civic life. It is this right which the government should enshrine, by providing both the structure (rule of law, elections, rights) and the democratic space for people to participate.”

Acclaimed sociologist and political scientist

“You cannot say ‘women have to struggle for their rights’. No, it is a common struggle. Men have to understand that if you want democracy, the starting point is equality.”

Ending the war on drugs

“Prohibition is not the solution to the drug question. We are proposing a kind of paradigm change: instead of war, health.”

Fernando H Cardoso biography

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.
  • President of Brazil 1995-2002
  • Inaugural winner of the Mahbub ul Haq Award for Outstanding Contribution to Human Development, 2002
  • Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Political Science at the University of São Paulo
  • President of the Global Commission on Drug Policy
"The Elders believe that what is important is not to continue to do something for himself, but to serve others."
View all articles by Fernando H Cardoso

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


Former UN Secretary-General, Nobel Peace Laureate and Chair of The Elders (2013-2018); put development, human rights, the rule of law, good governance and peace at the top of the United Nations agenda.

Ban Ki-moon

Former UN Secretary-General, former South-Korean Foreign Minister and diplomat; he sought to give voice to the world’s poorest and vulnerable people by putting Sustainable Development Goals, climate change, and gender equality at the top of the UN 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

Acting Chair of The Elders

First woman Prime Minister of Norway and Acting 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.


Desmond Tutu: "You all humble us"


Supporting peaceful Palestinian protest


“Wonderful young people. They uplift you”


Meeting Rabbi Ovadia Yosef


Nelson Mandela: breaking the shackles of revenge


Global drugs policy – time for a smarter approach?


Brazil's accidental president


Brazil's experience offers lessons for Egyptian civil society


A chance for global leadership on Syria


Video Q&A: Elders+Youngers in Rio


Elders+Youngers: it's our future, it's our time

Elders+Youngers: it's our future, it's our time


Rio+20's opportunity will be squandered without courage and vision

On the Web
Glad to know of the existence of this institution made up of good people and that both did and still do to help improve the world. In these times of rapid and often imperceptible, I leave a quote from Fernando Henrique "today the transformation has been mostly due to accumulation of dissatisfaction ...
Thúlio Igor

Inside the Elders’ meeting in Rio


A lasting peace must be an inclusive peace


NEW Elders' statement: We need peace in the Middle East, not just process.


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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