We support greater openness and dialogue between Iran and the international community, and encourage Iran to play a stabilising role in the wider Middle East.
Our work on Iran
The Elders believe the agreement reached between Iran and the P5+1 countries (US, UK, Russia, China, France and Germany) and the EU in July 2015 still offers the best path to reducing nuclear tensions in the region and forging a new relationship between Iran and the international community.
They deeply regretted President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the deal and reimpose sanctions on Iran. This weakened not only the deal but also trust in the wider multilateral system. They support the negotiations to secure a return to compliance with the JCPOA by the United States and Iran.
In July 2018, Kofi Annan wrote in his capacity of Chair of The Elders to the leaders of the other countries who were signatories to the deal, and to the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
He described the deal as “a historic achievement for multilateral diplomacy. It is an international agreement that should not be abridged by the unilateral withdrawal of one of the signatories. We believe such an action significantly undermines the inviolability of multilateral agreements and as such is a serious setback to the international rule of law.”
Iran’s role in regional stability
The Elders wish to see Iran acting as a stabilising force in the region, working with its neighbours on collective regional security arrangements that transcend national, ethnic and sectarian barriers; and fully reintegrated into the international community.
For this to occur, Iran and other regional powers must move from regional rivalry to cooperation. A more constructive and cooperative approach could help bring peace to Syria, Yemen and elsewhere – and transform the negative dynamics that have plagued the Middle East in recent years.
A brighter future for the Iranian people
Decades of conflict, sanctions and at times arbitrary rule have had a deeply negative impact on a resourceful and cultured people.
Every country has the right to choose its own political system, in line with its traditions and culture. However universal human rights, as defined by the United Nations, transcend all boundaries of race, gender and creed, and must be respected.
The Elders' visit to Tehran, January 2014
In their first visit to Iran as a group, The Elders travelled to Tehran in January 2014 to meet privately with the Iranian leadership.
Delegation leader Kofi Annan and fellow Elders Martti Ahtisaari, Desmond Tutu and Ernesto Zedillo held a series of productive meetings on the easing of regional tensions; the spread of extremist violence internationally; human rights; and the Syrian crisis. They were encouraged by Iran’s new spirit of openness and dialogue with the outside world.