The Elders

by Matt

I found this fascinating. In 1999, Richard Branson and Peter Gabriel suggested a formal collaboration between world leaders who might be considered as “The Elders” of humanity (the exoteric elders, at any rate). Well, it turns out Nelson Mandela liked the idea, and assembled the group, which includes the likes of Desmond Tutu, Jimmy Carter, Ela Bhatt, Mary Robinson, and Kofi Annan. The Elders’ goals, broadly, are:

1.) Offering a catalyst for the peaceful resolution of conflict.

2.) Seeking new approaches to seemingly intractable global issues. [Note that Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus is also an “Elder.”]

3.) Sharing wisdom: reaching out to grassroots Elders and to the next generation of leaders. Listening helpfully to amplify voices for good all over the world.

The Elders currently have two campaigns: one is a celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The other is aimed to address the humanitarian crisis in Sudan. To the latter end, Desmond Tutu, Graca Machel, Jimmy Carter, and Lakhdar Brahimi visited Sudan, and have drawn up a plan of action to galvanize global support. They are also planning a “mission” to the Middle East, to examine the “interlocking conflicts” there.

A characteristic common among Elders is that they are neither obliged, nor pledged to the service of any interest except human welfare. Consequently, they “can speak freely and boldly, working both publicly and behind the scenes on whatever action needs to be taken.”

To my mind, it’s unprecedented that such a group with such a mission be assembled and working so openly… And one definitely gets a better feeling about these folks teaming up to foster human welfare than considering the same agenda as undertaken by, say, the Council on Foreign Relations, or the Bilderbergers.

It’s really pretty exciting, if you ask me.

However, offhand I would add that I think an increasingly peaceful Earth will become increasingly realistic as the billions of people consent to concern themselves with the troubles beyond their front door. And, that that simple decision, just to be aware, could do a tremendous amount of good relative to the effort involved, because a conscious populace helps keep ruling leaders accountable, and might garner support for efforts such as the Elders.

After all, leaders are always outnumbered by those whom they lead, and thus — and often to no small extent — they garner their power from what has been invested in them, or abdicated to them, by the people who surround them.

Anyway, have a look for yourself.

I recommend the transcript of the press conference which followed the release of the Sudan report.