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The Elders Is a Group of Prominent Leaders Who Work for World Peace

There's a conspiracy theory out there that says a bunch of powerful heads of governments and corporations get together in a secret organization called the Illuminati to control the world and bend populations to their will. We don't know about that, but we know there is an organization where prominent world leaders get together to make the world better. It's called The Elders, and it began as the brainchild of billionaire Richard Branson.

With Our Powers Combined

According to the New York Times, Richard Branson first envisioned his "diplomatic league of superheroes" way back in 2003 before the start of the Iraq War. He had managed to persuade former president of South Africa Nelson Mandela and then-United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan to fly to Baghdad to ask Saddam Hussein to relinquish power, but war broke out before they could do it.

Later, Branson found himself on a flight with rock musician and human-rights activist Peter Gabriel. The two figures realized that they had a common idea about bringing together a group of "elders" — the kind you might find advising the people of a small village on how to make decisions and solve conflicts, except on a global scale. The two took their idea to Nelson Mandela, and with that, The Elders was born.

We Are the World

Today, The Elders is made up of 15 prominent leaders from all over the world, including Annan, retired Anglican archbishop Desmond Tutu, former US president Jimmy Carter, former Irish president Mary Robinson, and Indian women's rights activist Ela Bhatt. While many of the members have once held public office, none do currently, and that's by design. As Branson told the New York Times, this is "a group of people who are above ego, who, in the last 12 or 15 years of their lives, are above partisan politics."

As you might expect from a group with such diverse backgrounds, the causes The Elders fights for are all over the map. Sometimes, they stand up publicly for neglected issues and speak out against injustice, but others, they use their influence quietly to access upper-level decision makers and persuade them to do the right thing. As a result, they've had a hand in everything from peace efforts in Sudan to support of climate-change legislation to helping update the United Nations to stay relevant in the 21st century.

2017 marked the tenth anniversary of this band of peacekeepers. In anticipation of the occasion, Kofi Annan wrote an article for Newsweek in which he looked to the future."As Elders, we will be guided by the principles laid down by our founder Nelson Mandela," he wrote. "To work for peace and human rights without fear or favor and give a voice to the voiceless."

Who Are The Elders?

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Written by Ashley Hamer February 8, 2018

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