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The Elders was founded by Nelson Mandela in 2007. We are an independent group of global leaders working for peace, justice, human rights and a sustainable planet.



Our vision is a world where people live in peace, conscious of their common humanity and their shared responsibilities for each other, the planet and future generations; where there is universal respect for human rights; where poverty has been eliminated and people are free from fear and oppression, and able to fulfil their true potential.

More on who we are


How was the group formed?

The concept originates from a conversation between the entrepreneur Richard Branson and the musician Peter Gabriel. The idea they discussed was simple: many communities look to their elders for guidance, or to help resolve disputes. In an increasingly interdependent world - a ‘global village’ - could a small, dedicated group of individuals use their collective experience and influence to help tackle some of the most pressing problems facing the world today?

Peter and Richard took the idea to Nelson Mandela who went on to gather together a group of global leaders to discuss the potential of such an idea. Desmond Tutu, Jimmy Carter, Mary Robinson and others led the development of the concept and, in July 2007, on Mandela’s birthday, The Elders held its inaugural meeting.


The Elders' values

The Elders are guided by Nelson Mandela’s legacy. Our values include:

  • Independence: the Elders try to reflect the interests of the world as a whole. We aim to rise above the parochial concerns of nation, race and creed.
  • Integrity: the Elders speak and act with honesty, guided by the consistent application of moral principles in all we do, and free from all influence and personal interests.
  • Interdependence: the Elders share a profound sense that we are human only through the humanity of others. This common humanity transcends our differences.
  • Long-term view: the Elders do not take the easy, short-term route, but support long-term, sustainable approaches addressing the root causes of the problems we tackle.
  • Evidence-based: the Elders base our judgments on what science and other research tell us about the world and how it is changing, working collaboratively with experts.
  • Boldness: the Elders take risks, speak truth to power and act with confidence and courage in promoting solutions to complex and intractable global challenges.
  • Respect: the Elders recognise that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, and treat everyone we meet with the respect that requires.
  • Humility: the Elders do not pretend to have all the answers. We listen to young and old, believing that people are never too young to lead, and never too old to learn.
  • Hope: the Elders remain optimistic about humanity’s prospects. We believe that, with co-operation between the world’s peoples, our best future is still ahead of us.

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