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Q&A: The Elders visit Myanmar

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This week Jimmy Carter, Martti Ahtisaari and Gro Harlem Brundtland will travel to Myanmar – The Elders' first visit to the country as a group. Find out more about who they plan to meet and what they hope to achieve.


Why are the Elders travelling to Myanmar?

A delegation of Elders will be in Myanmar for a short 3-day visit, from Tuesday 24 to Thursday 26 September 2013.

The Elders are visiting Myanmar to listen to the views of a wide range of actors and observers involved in the transformation of the country, and to lay the foundations for a more sustained engagement by the group.

What do The Elders hope to achieve?

The visit has three broad objectives:

  • Support the political transition to democracy;
  • Encourage the peace process between the government and ethnic minority armed groups;
  • Promote local efforts to address inter-communal strife.

Which Elders are taking part in the trip?

Three members of the Elders will take part in the visit:

  • Jimmy Carter, former US President and Nobel Peace Laureate (delegation leader);
  • Martti Ahtisaari, former President of Finland and Nobel Peace Laureate;
  • Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway, former Director-General of the World Health Organization and Deputy Chair of The Elders.

Have any of the Elders visited Myanmar before?

Several members of The Elders have travelled to Myanmar in their personal capacities, including two this year: President Jimmy Carter in April 2013 and Archbishop Desmond Tutu in February 2013.

However this is the first visit to Myanmar by The Elders as a group, marking a new phase in their engagement in the country.

The Elders had been following the situation in Myanmar closely since the group was founded, issuing several statements including calls for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi (previously an honorary Elder, Daw Suu Kyi stepped down upon her election to political office in April 2012).

Who will they be meeting with?

The Elders do not represent their country or any other institution and their visit is not an official one. As independent leaders, they will hold a series of private meetings in Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw with government representatives and other political leaders, religious leaders and civil society organisations, including women’s groups.

They will have an opportunity to share the findings of their visit during a short press conference organised on the last day of their visit, on Thursday 26 September.

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