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The Elders are an independent group of global leaders working together for peace, justice and human rights.

Our vision is of a world where people live in peace, conscious of their common humanity and their shared responsibilities for each other, for the planet and for future generations.

We envisage a world in which there is universal respect for human rights; in which poverty has been eliminated; in which people are free from fear and oppression and are able to fulfil their true potential.


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What makes an Elder?

Elders no longer hold public office; they are independent of any national government or other vested interest. They should have earned international trust, demonstrated integrity and built a reputation for inclusive, progressive leadership.

The Elders share a common commitment to peace and universal human rights, but they also bring with them a wealth of diverse expertise and experience:

  • The peace makers, with decades of experience mediating and resolving conflicts around the world.
  • The peace builders who have helped post-conflict societies to heal wounds and rebuild.
  • The social revolutionaries who transformed their own countries - whether by reducing poverty, improving the status of women, or championing nonviolent struggle.
  • The pioneering women who have governed their countries, led international institutions and spearheaded movements to empower women.

An Elder is also a changemaker - someone who can lead by example, creating positive social change and inspiring others to do the same.

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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?

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How do they work?

The Elders is an unusual organisation with a distinct way of working. The Elders work strategically, focusing on areas where they are uniquely placed to make a difference.

This can mean engaging in private advocacy, using their collective influence to open doors and gain access to decision-makers. At other times, The Elders work publicly to promote neglected issues and speak out against injustice. The group decides collectively where there is the greatest opportunity to make a real impact, whether this is:

  • Opening doors to gain access to decision-makers at the highest levels
  • Listening to everyone, no matter how unpalatable or unpopular, to promote dialogue
  • Providing an independent voice that can speak out, challenge injustice and break taboos
  • Bringing people together to catalyse action and forge alliances
  • Amplifying and supporting the work of people affected by conflict or working for peace
  • Creating space for campaigners and policy makers to broach difficult issues
  • Connecting people with decision-makers, ensuring the needs of ordinary citizens are always represented
  • Highlighting neglected issues to generate media coverage and political attention

The Elders are cautious not to claim all the credit for making a difference. Much of The Elders’ work is dedicated to supporting the efforts of other campaigners and advocates, giving them a platform to make their voices heard. Read blogs by some of the activists The Elders have worked with.

The Elders are supported by a small team based in London, and by the Advisory Council.

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