As we face unprecedented global challenges in 2018, Kofi Annan – former UN Secretary General and Chair of The Elders – draws lessons from the life of Nelson Mandela.

In Kofi Annan's recent most message he speaks specifically of the need for leaders to respect international law, human rights and act with compassion and empathy.

“We live in troubled and turbulent times. The last twelve months have seen a series of shocks to the multilateral system that has underpinned geopolitical stability since the end of the Second World War, and the year ahead is likely to bring more disruption and uncertainty”, said Annan.

Madiba founded The Elders in 2007 and gave them a specific mandate: to support courage where there is fear, foster agreement where there is conflict, and inspire hope where there is despair.

“When Nelson Mandela left prison in 1990 after 27 years of incarceration, he knew that the only way to build a free and just society was to act with what he termed “kindness and generous accommodation”, said Annan.

Read Kofi Annan’s: 2018: Building a world Madiba would be proud of

The Elders will continue promote this spirit in 2018 through their “Walk Together” campaign. The campaign launched last July to mark their tenth anniversary and will continue throughout 2018 – shining a light on civil society activists fighting for peace, health, justice and equality. These activists, in their own way, inspire hope and continue Madiba’s long walk to freedom.

Kofi Annan’s message is a call to action, highlighting that in the year ahead, we must show the same courage as Nelson Mandela to walk together with compassion and empathy, and help build a world of which he would be proud.


With the support of a great group of partners Virgin Unite had the privilege of incubating The Elders in 2007 & now a decade on, the Elders are celebrating their 10th anniversary and the #WalkTogether campaign. Follow the campaign on Twitter and Facebook and the #WalkTogether hashtag.

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