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The Elders welcome China’s commitment to multilateralism and dialogue on rights and development, following meeting with President Xi Jinping

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The Elders meet with the President of China, His Excellency Xi Jinping and other senior leaders, in Beijing, April 2019.

"China has a unique responsibility and profound opportunity to promote and defend international dialogue and cooperation. We are encouraged by its continued commitment to multilateralism at a time of global instability.”Mary Robinson


Mary Robinson, Ban Ki-moon, Lakhdar Brahimi, Ricardo Lagos and Ernesto Zedillo were in Beijing to meet with the President of China, His Excellency Xi Jinping and other senior leaders.

This Elders mission to China included high-level discussions on multilateralism, climate change and development, nuclear rearmament and non-proliferation, and human rights, alongside a ‘town-hall’ meeting with students of the China Foreign Affairs University. 

The Elders had open and wide-ranging discussions with President Xi, where he reaffirmed China’s commitment to multilateralism and the importance of a strong and functional United Nations. 

Although The Elders acknowledged China’s unprecedented international cooperation – including the Belt and Road Initiative - they also expressed hope that China will step up its efforts to make that cooperation consistent with the development needs, and financial and environmental sustainability of partner countries.

Given the urgency of fully implementing the Paris Agreement, and the disengagement of some counties, The Elders appealed to China to enhance its commitment to tackling climate change.

President Xi reiterated China’s support for the Paris Agreement and a firm commitment to meet its obligations on climate change.

Ban Ki-moon, Deputy Chair of The Elders, said:

“China has shown a clear desire to fulfil its commitments under the Paris Agreement, and play a central role in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. At a time when international cooperation is faltering, this is welcome news.” 

President Xi expressed agreement on the dangers of nuclear rearmament and proliferation – asserting that there can be no winner from a conflict between major global powers. The Elders hope all permanent members of the UN Security Council share these concerns, and support their calls for a new nuclear “minimisation” agenda.

Ernesto Zedillo, Elder and former President of Mexico, said: 

“These discussions clearly underlined how recent actions by some nuclear powers threaten to reverse the progress achieved on nuclear disarmament since the Cold War. We ask President Xi to use his influence to help limit any further deterioration of international agreements on the development and deployment of nuclear weapons.” 

In response to questions from the Chair of The Elders, Mary Robinson, President Xi said he was open to dialogue on issues of human rights and welcomed the idea of continuing these discussions with The Elders in the future.

Mary Robinson, Chair of the Elders, said:

“China has made tremendous strides in freeing millions of people from the injustices of poverty. We hope that same determination to improve human rights can apply to all people throughout China. We look forward to continuing discussions on how to enhance international cooperation on global peace, security and prosperity.”


For media inquiries, please contact Luke Upchurch, Director of Communications at The Elders (+44 (0) 7741 742064) or email: [email protected]

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