53 Brentwood Blog

Thursday, July 19, 2007


Nelson Mandela marked his 89th birthday yesterday with the launch of a group of world-renowned figures who plan to use several Nobel peace prizes and "almost 1,000 years of collective experience" to tackle global crises which governments are unable or unwilling to confront.

"Using their collective experience, their moral courage and their ability to rise above nation, race and creed, they can make our planet a more peaceful and equitable place to live," said the former South African president.

Mr Mandela, looking frail and walking with a stick, said the group, to be known as the Elders, was created at the initiative of Sir Richard Branson and Peter Gabriel, who organised the funding.

Its members include former US president Jimmy Carter, former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, and former archbishop of Cape Town Desmond Tutu. The former Irish president Mary Robinson and Bangladeshi philanthropist Muhammad Yunus are also included, with others expected to be invited to join. Mr Mandela said the group could become a "robust force for good" in dealing with challenges ranging from climate change and global pandemics, such as Aids and malaria, to "that entirely human-created affliction, violent conflict".

He said the Elders could prove effective in "working objectively and without any personal or vested interest" in dealing with seemingly intractable problems where others fail because of "political, economic and geographic constraints".
"This group can speak freely and boldly, working both publicly and behind the scenes on whatever actions need to be taken," he said.

Mr Mandela said the name of the group was drawn from the idea of the world as a global village in need of elders in the way that village elders have traditionally addressed their communities' problems.

Chris McGreal, July 19, 2007 The Guardian


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