The Elders

Lakhdar Brahimi

"We’re extremely careful not to claim that we’re going to take a problem and solve it. What we’re saying is that from time to time, in certain situations, a problem needs a little push."

Algerian freedom fighter and diplomat

“I understand very much the people who rise against injustice. I understand even the excesses that can happen once you start fighting against injustice – not to condone it, but to understand how you get there.”

Veteran UN mediator

“You cannot fight your way to peace; sitting down with your adversary and negotiating is the only way to resolve conflict and prevent further bloodshed." 

Peacekeeping expert

“Never in my career have I felt that a situation is hopeless or that change is impossible. Despite the uncertainty that change will bring, there is nothing to fear from seeking genuine and lasting peace.”

Lakhdar Brahimi biography

Former Algerian freedom fighter, Foreign Minister, conflict mediator and UN diplomat; an expert in peacekeeping and post-conflict reconstruction.
  • Fought for Algerian independence 
  • Algerian Foreign Minister 1991-1993
  • UN Special Representative in Afghanistan 2001-2004
  • UN Special Envoy in Iraq 2004
  • Joint Special Representative of the UN and Arab League for Syria 2012-2014
"We’re extremely careful not to claim that we’re going to take a problem and solve it. What we’re saying is that from time to time, in certain situations, a problem needs a little push."
  • Work with The Elders

    A respected and pragmatic negotiator, Lakhdar Brahimi has been a member of The Elders since the group was founded in 2007.

    He travelled to Sudan with The Elders in October that year, drawing attention to the victims of violence in Darfur. He returned to Khartoum in May and July 2012 together with Jimmy Carter to meet President Omar al-Bashir, as part of a two-stage Elders visit to the region to encourage a return to dialogue between Sudan and South Sudan.

    Since October 2008, Lakhdar Brahimi has been involved in the reconciliation process and peace efforts in Cyprus between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. Together with Desmond Tutu and Jimmy Carter his commitment was translated into other two following visits to the island, respectively in September and December 2009. He features in The Elders’ documentary about the search for people who are still missing following the violence of the 1960s and 1970s – Cyprus: Digging the Past in Search of the Future – in which he discusses the difficulties of forgiveness with Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

    As part of The Elders’ work to promote Middle East peace, Mr Brahimi joined the October 2010 delegation to the region, visiting Gaza, Egypt, Syria and Jordan. In meetings with UN officials, civil society and political leaders, he repeated his call for an end to Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, and stressed the need to work towards a two-state solution. His support for peace and reconciliation in the Middle East was further reiterated by his trip to Washington D.C in July 2013 where, together with Martti Ahtisaari, Jimmy Carter and Mary Robinson, he engaged in high-level discussions on regional conflicts with prominent US leaders.

    In December 2014, Lakhdar Brahimi joined fellow Elders Martti Ahtisaari, Gro Harlem Brundtland and Hina Jilani to Myanmar where they met with representatives from the government, the military and civil society including ethnic women’s groups.

    At the UN General Assembly in New York in September 2011, Lakhdar Brahimi together with Desmond Tutu, Mary Robinson, Gro Harlem Brundtland and Martti Ahtisaari launched The Elders’ new initiative on child marriage and the Girls not Brides campaign.

    Lakhdar Brahimi joined The Elders’ delegation to Moscow in April 2015. Led by Kofi Annan, Mr Brahimi along with Martti Ahtisaari, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Jimmy Carter and Ernesto Zedillo visited Russia to discuss key geopolitical issues. During the trip, The Elders met with President Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, as well as former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.

    In September 2016 Lakhdar Brahimi together with Kofi Annan and Martti Ahtisaari launched a new report on refugee and migration following their visit to Berlin. They heard a range of perspectives on the country's response to the crisis: from Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Federal President Joachim Gauck and business leaders, to civil society groups, volunteers and refugees themselves.

    In February 2017 he participated in the Munich Security Conference together with Hina Jilani, Mary Robinson and Ernesto Zedillo, including taking part in a panel discussion on the future of the Iran nuclear agreement.

  • Algerian nationalist and diplomat

    After Algeria’s war of independence broke out in 1954, Lakhdar Brahimi left his studies in Paris in 1956 to join his country’s liberation struggle. At the age of 22 he represented the National Liberation Front in Southeast Asia, a position he held for five years.

    Following Algerian independence from France in 1962, Mr Brahimi held several diplomatic roles including Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Egypt and Sudan, and Permanent Representative to the Arab League in Cairo.

    In 1989, as an Arab League Special Envoy, he brokered the Taif Agreement that brought Lebanon’s seventeen-year long civil war to an end. Between 1991 and 1993 he was Algerian Minister for Foreign Affairs.

  • UN peace-maker

    Lakhdar Brahimi has worked to resolve conflict and build peace in some of the most troubled regions in the world. He led the United Nations Observer Mission during the 1994 democratic elections in South Africa that brought Nelson Mandela to power. He was sent to help end Yemen’s civil war in 1994, and served as Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Haiti until 1996. Mr Brahimi also served as UN Special Envoy to the Democratic Republic of Congo (then Zaïre), Sudan, Burundi, Liberia, Nigeria, Angola and Côte d’Ivoire.

    As Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2004, he was responsible for overseeing all political, human rights, relief, recovery and reconstruction activities in the country. Mr Brahimi also served as the Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Afghanistan between 1997 and 1999.

    In 2004 he served as UN Special Envoy in Iraq, and was Joint Special Representative of the UN and Arab League for Syria from 2012-2014.

  • The Brahimi Report

    In between his Afghanistan assignments, Lakhdar Brahimi chaired an independent panel established by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to review United Nations peacekeeping operations.

    Known as the ‘Brahimi Report’, the panel’s findings were released in 2000 and assessed the shortcomings of the existing system of peacekeeping – criticising in particular the UN’s failure to respond to the atrocities in Rwanda in 1994 and Srebrenica, Bosnia in 1995. The report made several recommendations for reform, including the need for clear, achievable mandates and the importance of better consultation and cooperation with countries contributing troops to peacekeeping missions.

View all articles by Lakhdar Brahimi

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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