The Elders are independent global leaders – originally brought together by Nelson Mandela – who offer their collective influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering, and promote the shared interests of humanity.

Working both publicly and through private diplomacy, the Elders engage with global leaders and civil society to help resolve conflict and address its root causes. They challenge injustice, promote good governance, and inspire ethical leadership.

Kofi Annan, Chair of The Elders, Former UN Secretary-General and Nobel Peace Laureate recently penned his New Year message about the global challenges in 2017 and the need for ethical leadership. 

The piece looks ahead to the hard choices facing the world in 2017, and Annan calls on leaders to be honest with their people – pledging that The Elders will continue to speak truth to power, as the organisation marks its 10th anniversary.

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Annan writes about a year that will be marked by change and upheaval across the globe, including new leadership in the United States, and elections in France, Germany, Iran and India – knowing that whatever the outcome, these moments are an opportunity to ask clear, honest questions of ourselves and of our world. Have we done our utmost to prevent suffering? Have we put the greater good ahead of our own self-interest? Have we chosen our words with care, mindful of their impact on those who listen?

Read Kofi Annan's piece - 2017: a year for hard questions and honest answers

People deserve honest explanations and answers from their leaders, not obfuscations given in bad faith

- Kofi Annan

Throughout this year The Elders will continue to lead positive change and build on their work in 2016 – focussing on the support of refugees and migrants, climate action and the promotion of Universal Health Care (UHC). 

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Universal Health Coverage (UHC)

Universal Health Coverage means everyone receives the health care they need without suffering financial hardship. The Elders believe this is a goal all countries can reach and will continue to support this movement in 2017. To learn more about UHC and how you can support it read The Elders: Universal Health Coverage position paper.

Refugees and migration

Mass movement of people is one of the most significant challenges the world faces today. With political will, the world can ensure that responsibility is truly shared between countries and the vulnerable are protected. In 2016 The Elders released a report on how the world must respond to refugees and mass migration: In Challenge Lies Opportunity.

Climate change

Climate change disproportionately hits the world’s most vulnerable people. The Elders have been loud and active supporters of bold leadership – encouraging all leaders to implement the Paris Agreement and maintain ambition. Learn more about The Elders’ work to combat climate change and what’s to come in 2017.

Kofi Annan and The Elders have committed to a big year ahead, which according to Annan is precisely why Nelson Mandela urged The Elders to “speak truth to power”. “Our world will face hard choices in 2017. People deserve honest explanations and answers from their leaders, not obfuscations given in bad faith. As Elders, we pledge to speak out clearly and boldly to help further the interests of our common humanity,” said Kofi.

Stay informed about the work of The Elders throughout the year – visit their website and follow them on Facebook & Twitter