Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Elders

Out in the wide world, an interesting development which gives me some hope. I do love Nelson Mandela's energy and drive.

Elder Statesmen to Use Wisdom On World's Woes

Business Day (Johannesburg)

19 July 2007
Posted to the web 19 July 2007

John Kaninda

EFFORTS made by a small, dedicated and committed group of former world leaders working independently could help resolve the seemingly intractable problems the world faces today, former president Nelson Mandela said yesterday.

Mandela was speaking at the launch of The Elders, a group of former leaders who have undertaken to use their unique skills to achieve peaceful resolutions to long-standing conflicts and articulate new approaches to global problems that may be causing immense suffering.

The think-tank also plans to "share wisdom by helping to connect voices all over the world".

Mandela believes the success of the new initiative will stem from the fact that members of the group will not face the same restrictive pressures as do the world's current leaders. "Members of this group have no election to win, have no career to build or constituency to please.

"They can, therefore, speak freely and boldly, working both publicly and behind the scenes on whatever actions need to be taken," Mandela said.

Mandela's views were echoed by former American president Jimmy Carter, who brushed aside suggestions that the initiative would fail because most of its members were set to tackle issues they were unable to deal with successfully during their former political or administrative tenures.

"Some initiatives we were unable to bring to fruition due to a lack of time," Carter said. "Others could not be achieved successfully because of pressure from our constituencies."

But in the present context, the elders would enjoy a freedom that allowed them a better chance of success in their endeavours, Carter said.

Mary Robinson, an Irish president in the 1990s, said the new group would identify global projects whose implementation had ground to a halt or had not been smooth, and try to mobilise resources and goodwill to give them a new impetus.

Former United Nations (UN) secretary-general Kofi Annan remarked that the group would work to complement, not duplicate or compete with, the efforts of other organisations.

"We would not be able, for instance, to be efficient in solving a burning issue such as the Darfur conflict and humanitarian crisis if we ignored the UN or the African Union," Annan said.


I am moved by this idea. Yes, it's idealistic, but certainly there's a lot of good peolpe who could be called into service to share insight and wisdom. Let's see what they think of now. Here's just how global it really is:

It was only when he met Sir Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin empire, and Peter Gabriel, the musician and human rights campaigner, that the idea was made a reality. Jean Oelwang, who runs Virgin Unite, which co-ordinates Virgin’s charitable ventures, is to be the director of the project.

Sir Richard and Mr Gabriel will be at the launch. The Elders are Jimmy Carter, the former US president, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who won the Nobel prize in 1984 for his role in the anti-apartheid campaign, Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland, Graca Machel, Mr Mandela’s wife who was a government minister in Mozambique, Kofi Annan, the former secretary general of the United Nations, and Muhammad Yunus, the Bangladeshi economist who was awarded the Nobel prize for helping the poor.

Four more Elders will be introduced later in the year. Archbishop Tutu will chair the scheme, which is billed as a humanitarian initiative. A supporter of the project said: “Nelson Mandela has talked for a long time about doing something like this. He has had a vision of tapping into the power and influence of former world leaders.

“The Elders will look at global issues and conflict resolution. This will be their first meeting together. They will then decide what projects they wish to become involved with. We think they will be able to bring about real change.”

Strength and courage to them!

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