The Elders prove older is wiser

Posted by Gareth Hargreaves

Jon Snow hosts an Intelligence2 discussion featuring 'Elders' Jimmy Carter, Mary Robinson and Desmond Tutu.

The Elders at the Barbican - July 2012

To celebrate the fifth anniversary of the founding of 'The Elders', Intelligence Squared hosted a discussion involving three of the group, former US president Jimmy Carter, former Ireland president Mary Robinson and archbishop Desmond Tutu in London at the Barbican Centre (July 2 2012).

Originally the brain child of musician Peter Gabriel and entrepreneur Richard Branson - both of whom were frustated at the lack of independent thought leadership in world affairs - the idea behind The Elders centred on the way many communities look to their elders for guidance, or to help resolve disputes. The pair persuaded Nelson Mandela to nurture the idea and establish an international non-government organisation made up of elder statesmen, peace activists and human rights advocates. 

The Elders use their collective experience and influence to promote peace, justice and human rights worldwide, using private advocacy and public diplomacy. Here Jon Snow talks to three of the group about how they work together and manage to keep their not inconsiderable personal egos in check.

What do you think?

Can this type of advocacy make a meaningful contribution to world affairs in the face of opposition from elected politicians and the lobbying power of multinational corporations?

To find out more about Intelligence Squared and the forthcoming season of debates and lectures visit


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