The Elders

Ban Ki-moon

"The Elders and the United Nations share the same values of justice, solidarity and a determination to fight for peace and human rights. I eagerly await the task ahead in this new chapter of my career.”

Ban Ki-moon biography

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.
  • United Nations Secretary-General 2007-1026
  • Foreign Minister of South Korea 2004-2006
  • Chairman of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization 1999
“It is an honour and a privilege to join this august group, whose work I have admired for many years.”
  • Sustainable Development and Gender Equality

    Mr. Ban held office from January 2007 to December 2016. In 2011, he was unanimously re-elected by the General Assembly for a second mandate.

    His first major initiative as UN Secretary-General was the 2007 Climate Change Summit, which was followed by extensive diplomatic efforts to put the issue at the top of the global agenda. In 2009 Mr. Ban continued to stress his concerns for global warming at the World Climate Conference in Geneva, and in 2014, he joined demonstrators in the People's Climate March in New York City. He also called together world leaders for the 2014 UN Climate Summit, which served as a preparatory meeting for the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference.

    Mr. Ban has also been a tenacious advocator for the world’s main anti-poverty targets, the Millennium Development Goals. He generated more than $60 billion in pledges, with a special emphasis on Africa and the new Global Strategy on Women’s and Children’s Health. At the height of the food, energy and economic crises in 2008, he successfully appealed to the G20 for a $1 trillion financing package for developing countries and took other key steps to guide the international response and protect the vulnerable and poor.

    Furthermore, he was the promoter for the creation of UN Women. His advocacy for women’s rights and gender equality led him to launch the "Unite to End Violence against Women" campaign, the "Stop Rape Now" initiative, the creation of a "Network of Men Leaders" and the establishment of a new Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict. Within the UN itself, Mr. Ban has increased by 40% the number of women in senior management, reaching the highest level in the Organisation’s history.

  • Conflict and Peacebuilding

    Mr. Ban strengthened UN peace efforts by promoting a series of steps aiming at improving the impact of the 120,000 United Nations "blue helmets" operating in the world’s conflict zones. He set up a mediation support unit, which, together with the Secretary-General’s good offices, helped to prevent, manage and resolve tensions, conflicts and crisis. Particularly, he took steps to bring accountability for human rights violations through inquiries related to Gaza, Guinea, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, legal processes in Lebanon and Cambodia, and advocacy for the "responsibility to protect”.

    He has also sought to strengthen humanitarian response in the aftermath of mega-disasters in Myanmar (2008), Haiti (2010) and Pakistan (2010), and mobilised UN support for the democratic transitions in North Africa and the Middle East. Finally, Mr. Ban lead efforts to revive the disarmament agenda and break the deadlock at the Conference on Disarmament, and urged renewed attention to nuclear safety and security in the aftermath of the tragedy at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

  • UN Reform

    Mr. Ban also introduced new measures aimed at making the United Nations more transparent, effective and efficient. These include heightened financial disclosure requirements, compacts with senior managers, harmonisation of business practices and conditions of service, adoption of International Public Sector Accounting Standards, and continued investments in information technology and staff development.

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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.

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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