2020 was a year like no other as COVID-19 wreaked havoc on people’s lives across the world. During this time, The Elders continued to deliver on Nelson Mandela’s mandate to “support courage where there is fear” and “inspire hope where there is despair”.
100 seconds to midnight
In January, Ban Ki-moon and Mary Robinson joined experts from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists for the unveiling of the Doomsday Clock. Moving the clock forward, they highlighted the dangers posed by nuclear weapons, climate change and disruptive new technologies.
Marking 30 years since Nelson Mandela’s release
February marked the thirtieth anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison. To mark this milestone, the Elders recalled memories of their Founder and his legacy.
Celebrating inspiring women
To mark International Women's Day in March, the Elders shared photos of themselves with women who inspire them, highlighting the importance of women's engagement, leadership and action in seeking a more peaceful and just world.
Solidarity with youth climate activists
On Earth Day 2020, The Elders launched a series of intergenerational climate action blogs to highlight the perspectives of young climate activists from across the world. Over ten weeks, The Elders stood in solidarity with these inspirational changemakers.
Finding Humanity - a new podcast
In May, The Elders launched a new podcast to explore empathetic leadership. Over four special episodes, Zeid Raad Al Hussein, Juan Manuel Santos, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Gro Harlem Brundtland joined Mary Robinson to discuss human rights, peace-making, gender equality and multilateralism.
Photo: European Union 2013; European Parliament; Columbia University / Eileen Barroso
The Elders’ first virtual Board Meeting
May 2020 also saw The Elders’ first virtual Board Meeting. Held over two days, the Elders considered global challenges given the COVID-19 pandemic and concluded by calling on leaders to put multilateralism, solidarity and human rights at the heart of their response.
Hope for a sea-change as the UN turns 75
On the seventy-fifth anniversary of the UN Charter in June, The Elders launched a new report on the threats facing multilateralism in an era of populist nationalism. The report calls for determined and principled leadership, recognising that global challenges require global solutions.
Photo: UN Photo/Sophia Paris
Supporting frontline justice defenders
COVID-19 has exacerbated the existing justice gap and frustrated grassroots efforts to support those needing access to justice. In July, The Elders supported the launch of the COVID-19 Grassroots Justice Fund which aims to help frontline justice defenders adapt & respond to the pandemic.
Photo: Skoll Foundation
In August, marking seventy-five years since the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Elders folded origami cranes, shared messages of peace and called for nuclear minimisation as the first step towards a world free of nuclear weapons.
Strengthening the role of women mediators in the Arab world
In October, Graça Machel, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Lakhdar Brahimi and Ban Ki-moon participated in discussions with women mediators to mark the 20th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.
Photo: UN Women/Christopher Herwig
Read this policy note and watch highlights on why women’s equal participation is crucial in peace processes
In November, The Elders welcomed the result of the US Presidential Election, calling for a renewal of US participation in the multilateral system, particularly as the world grapples with COVID-19, climate change and the threat posed by nuclear weapons.
Photo: Pete Souza / US Government
Read our statements following the US Presidential election and on the importance of a democratic transition of power.
Continuing dialogue with Israeli and Palestinian civil society
The Elders continue to hear the perspectives of Israeli and Palestinian civil society. In 2020, this has included dialogue on the realities of occupation and a number of discussions facilitated by The Carter Center.
Watch this discussion on the realities of occupation and discover more about our series of dialogues with Israeli and Palestinian civil society, together with The Carter Center.
Building Back Better for Universal Health
Concluding a busy year in which health has been at the forefront of the global agenda, The Elders launched a new report calling on leaders to make achieving Universal Health Coverage a priority as they respond to COVID-19.
Photo: World Bank / Henitsoa Rafalia