Skip to main content


The impact we seek: Global peace and security are improved through enhanced respect for international law, and more inclusive national and international dialogue.

The Issue

Russia’s war on Ukraine has exposed the failings of an international peace and security system already in deep crisis, unable to respond effectively to conflicts between and within states across the world. In the emerging, multi-polar phase of big power relations, new conflicts and forms of warfare are already emerging.  Global tensions are being exacerbated by the rise of ultra-nationalist politics, making it harder to maintain inclusive dialogue and resolve conflict.

Widespread impunity is fuelling the systematic violation of international law, while accountability mechanisms such as the International Criminal Court are selectively opposed, undermining their deterrent effect and the rules-based order. Women and girls suffer disproportionately from conflict-related sexual violence, and women’s ability to shape security dialogue and conflict resolution processes remains limited.

“It is far more difficult to make peace than it is to wage war, I know it because I have done both.”

Juan Manuel Santos

Member of The Elders
Former President of Colombia & Nobel Peace Laureate

Our Priorities

We will focus our efforts on advocating for international law and accountability, and on engagement in a limited number of conflict situations where the Elders have the ability to play a distinctive role. We will take a flexible approach in response to demand for Elders’ engagement, initially prioritising Russia’s war on Ukraine, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

We want to see action on the following:

International law and accountability are reinforced in conflict contexts

The Elders champion adherence to the international rule of law, defend the UN Charter, and use our cross-regional voice to reinforce universal norms and values. We aim to highlight the most serious violations, such as alleged crimes against humanity, and call for accountability and redress. We also support and amplify civil society organisations and accountability bodies which face pressure from states under scrutiny.

Ban Ki-moon and Juan Manuel Santos visit Ukraine, 2022. Photo: The Elders/Paul Kuzmickas
Mary Robinson and Lakhdar Brahimi on a visit to Zimbabwe, 2018. Photo: Annie Mpalume / The Elders

Inclusive dialogue and diplomacy are promoted to resolve conflict, including the role of women as agents for peace

The Elders conduct private diplomacy with decision-makers at appropriate moments, using our unique access to explore ways to prevent and resolve conflicts. We promote inclusive dialogue as the foundation for achieving just and sustainable peace, highlighting the role of women within peace-building and security dialogues. We also urge states to engage in constructive dialogue in multilateral fora, highlighting issues where common ground can be found amid deepening divisions.

The international peace and security architecture is protected and reformed

The Elders seek to use our credibility as international leaders to push for reform of the institutions managing peace and security, particularly the UN Security Council. We identify and champion ambitious, politically feasible reform proposals, including through engagement with a range of initiatives led by the UN and others feeding into the UN Summit of the Future in 2024.

Ban Ki-moon speaking at a UN Security Council meeting on the maintenance of international peace and security, 2019. Photo: UN Photo/ Loey Felipe

Our Approach

The Elders’ value includes our willingness to talk privately to all conflict parties, to speak out on difficult issues, and to get access to decision-makers at the highest political levels. We engage on high priority conflicts based on their global or regional significance, the demand for our engagement, and our ability to play a distinctive role. We will also push for endorsement and implementation of far-reaching reforms of the international conflict architecture, where a consistent approach to human rights will be integral to reinforcing international law and accountability.

Our current country priorities


Russia / Ukraine

Russia’s war on Ukraine is a flagrant violation of the United Nations Charter, which all UN member states have a shared responsibility to uphold. The Elders unequivocally support Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and its right to defend itself with the support of its allies, against Russia’s unlawful war of aggression. The war can be ended immediately by Russia withdrawing its forces fully from Ukrainian territory.

Any future peace must be a just and sustainable peace, based on the UN Charter. Accountability is a core element of this, and the Elders have called for the establishment of a special tribunal to investigate and prosecute the alleged crime of aggression, to hold President Putin accountable.

The Elders visited Kyiv in August 2022, where they met with President Zelenskyy and other senior government officials after visiting the sites of atrocities committed by Russian forces.


Israel / Palestine

The long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been one of The Elders’ top priorities since the group was founded. Nearly three decades after the Oslo agreements and many rounds of negotiations, progress towards a lasting peace remains elusive.

Given the far-reaching impact of the unresolved conflict and the power imbalance between the parties, The Elders believe the international community has a vital role to play in helping bring the occupation and conflict to an end. Only a just and secure peace, based on international law and human rights principles, offers a genuine prospect of guaranteeing the right of all Palestinians and Israelis to live in equality, dignity and security.

More information

In June 2021 Ban Ki-moon called on the world to back a new approach to the conflict

“We must act collectively to defend the rules that underpin our common security, and hold to account those who violate them.”

Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein

Member of The Elders
Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Keep up to date with The Elders’ COVID-19 digest:

Sign up to receive regular updates about The Elders’ activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. We will never share your email address with third parties.

Keep up to date with The Elders latest News and Insight:

Sign up to receive monthly newsletters from The Elders. We will occasionally send you other special updates and news, but we'll never share your email address with third parties.


I would like to find: