The Elders and partners launched the Every Human Has Rights campaign in Cape Town on 10 December 2007 to celebrate the beginning of the 60th anniversary year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The campaign aimed to encourage and empower global citizens to protect the UDHR, the first-ever comprehensive agreement on human rights among nations.
Kofi Annan, Jimmy Carter and Graça Machel planned to travel to Zimbabwe in November 2008 in order to make a first-hand assessment of the humanitarian situation in the country. Following their refused entry into Zimbabwe, the Elders instead met leaders from politics, business, international organisations and civil society in Johannesburg, South Africa, many of whom travelled from Zimbabwe to see them.
With efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals focused on the target date of 2015, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announces the appointment of Graça Machel and 25 other civil society, private sector and government leaders as members of a new high-level panel tasked with outlining a vision of the post-2015 global development agenda.
“We chose to go to Sudan for The Elders' first mission because we could not turn our eyes from the humanitarian crisis, and we wanted to join with the many people around the world who have worked to stop the atrocities, protect the people, and contribute to peace.” – The Elders
In June 2011 Elders Gro Brundtland, Graça Machel, Mary Robinson and Desmond Tutu travelled to Ethiopia to visit communities affected by child marriage and convene a meeting of experts and activists working to end child marriage around the world.
“As Elders, we will strive to use our collective clout to bring people together, amplify the space to give voice to the voiceless, and catalyse action. We understand true leadership as that of service, leadership which promotes equity and dignity for all.”
Freedom fighter to education reformer
“I want to see education that produces young people who will not tolerate their peers living in abject poverty in the midst of plenty; young people who will be outraged by inequality and impatient to bring about change.”
Advocate for girls and women
“Let us give a face and a voice to that girl child who has been ignored. When at last she is front and centre of our development efforts, it is she who will change the world.”
Galvanising civil society throughout Africa
“Don’t underestimate the power of people. Our weakness is that we do not know how powerful we are – and we are not using the power we have as citizens. Go out there and organise, organise, organise. Mobilise mobilise, mobilise. We’ll get there.”
Graça Machel biography
International advocate for women’s and children's rights; former freedom fighter and first Education Minister of Mozambique.
Minister of Education and Culture in Mozambique 1975-1989
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.
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.
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.
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.
“The people of the world want to see an end to the threat from climate change”
Returning from New York, Elders CEO Lesley-Anne Knight reflects on the results of last week’s Climate Summit, which follows the largest-ever march on climate change, and calls for continued pressure on leaders to act decisively.
The High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, appointed to design a framework to replace the Millennium Development Goals, released its report last week. Its recommendations include a goal on peace and security, and recognise child marriage as a key indicator of girls' and women's empowerment.
"No conflict-affected low-income country has achieved a single Millennium Development Goal."
Graça Machel, a member of the High-level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, calls for a new development framework that can break the cycle of conflict and poverty. First published in Project Syndicate.
“We ought to do everything in our power to ensure girls can become all they can be.” Desmond Tutu
In November, Desmond Tutu and Graça Machel took part in a Girls Not Brides conference discussing how to end child marriage in Sub-Saharan Africa. The event in South Africa brought together activists, campaigners and experts from across the continent.
Graça Machel blogs about the growing momentum to end child marriage, from the grassroots to the very highest levels. Pointing to examples of successful projects to address this problem within communities, she calls for girls to be put at the centre of development efforts worldwide.
“An estimated one in three girls in the developing world is married before the age of 18.”
As US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton concluded her 11-day visit to Africa, she met Nelson Mandela and Graça Machel at their home in South Africa. After discussing The Elders' work to tackle child marriage, Secretary Clinton affirmed her commitment to ending this harmful traditional practice.
In an interview with Metro International published in eight countries in Europe and the Americas, Graça Machel discusses progress on gender equality in Africa and her long involvement in the struggle to end child marriage. The story was published in English on the Huffington Post.
Le mariage des enfants est une tradition qui entrave le développement sur plusieurs plans : l'éducation, la santé, la pauvreté et l'égalité. Pourtant, écrivent Gro Brundtland et Graça Machel, ce sujet est rarement évoqué par les instances décisionnaires. Tribune publiée sur Rue89.
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.