The Elders

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“My life, my decision: stop child marriage”

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Towards an end to child marriage

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Healing divisions, finding common ground in Côte d'Ivoire

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The Elders in North and South Korea

Mary Robinson

“When Nelson Mandela brought us together as Elders, he did so in the belief that together we are stronger, that change happens when people collectively take action to make our world a better place.”

Former President of Ireland

“I was elected by the women of Ireland, who instead of rocking the cradle, rocked the system.”

Giving voice to human rights

“Human rights are inscribed in the hearts of people; they were there long before lawmakers drafted their first proclamation.”

Climate change: a matter of justice

“If we are to be true to our commitment to human rights, then rich nations owe a fair and honest deal to the world’s most vulnerable regions. The people on climate change’s frontline have often done the least to cause it.”

Calling for more women leaders

“If we empower women, we stand a chance of succeeding at everything else.”

Mary Robinson biography

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.
  • President of Ireland 1990-1997
  • United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights 1997-2002
  • Institutional reformer: brought the human rights agenda into the core of United Nations activities
  • UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa 2013-2014
  • UN Envoy on Climate Change 2014-2015
  • Chancellor of the University of Dublin
  • 2016 UN Special Envoy on El Niño and Climate
"Part of the wisdom of the Elders is to remind the world that we actually have universal values that are accepted by every government in the world and yet they are not being implemented."
View all articles by Mary Robinson

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.

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

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.

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The changing face of East Jerusalem

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24 hours in Gaza

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Gaza students meet the Elders

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Desmond Tutu: "You all humble us"

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Supporting peaceful Palestinian protest

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“Wonderful young people. They uplift you”

Press release

Elders join Ban Ki-moon in convening health leaders

News

How can young people join in the debate about climate change?

Videos

The Elders call for climate action #NowNotTomorrow

The Elders call for climate action #NowNotTomorrow

Opinion

Gaza: a cycle of violence that can be broken

News

Mary Robinson: "fracking is not the solution"

Videos

Mary Robinson: what's the meaning of life?

Mary Robinson: what's the meaning of life?

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Mandela Day 2014: how will you be an ethical leader?

Videos

The role of media in promoting peace

The role of media in promoting peace

Videos

Hina Jilani: 'cultural understanding' does not mean condoning harmful practices

Hina Jilani: 'cultural understanding' does not mean condoning harmful practices

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We must make the historic shift to a carbon-neutral world

Videos

Kofi Annan, Jimmy Carter & Mary Robinson on 'speaking truth to power'

Kofi Annan, Jimmy Carter & Mary Robinson on 'speaking truth to power'

Videos

Kofi Annan: "We cannot keep consuming as if there's no tomorrow"

Kofi Annan: "We cannot keep consuming as if there's no tomorrow"

News

Elders climate debate: the view from Twitter

Press release

The Elders applaud Palestinian unity agreement

Opinion

Climate change: who will lead?

News

Climate change, leadership and young people: join the debate

News

Closing the gender gap

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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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