This year, One Young World is delighted to welcome five members of The Elders to London for the 10th Annual One Young World Summit, including Chair of The Elders and longstanding One Young World Counsellor, Mary Robinson.
The Elders was founded in 2007 by Nelson Mandela, with a vision of a world where people live in peace; conscious of their common humanity and their shared responsibilities for each other, for the planet and for future generations.
As an independent group of global leaders working together for peace, justice and human rights, The Elders are looking to the next generation of world leaders to help achieve this vision.
Read on to meet the five Elders attending the One Young World 2019 Summit
Following tenures as a Dublin City Councillor and Senator, Mary Robinson was elected Ireland’s first female President in 1990. During her presidency, she supported successful liberalisation campaigns for the traditionally Catholic nation’s policies on contraception, divorce, and LGBTQ+ rights. Robinson resigned as President in 1997 to accept the post of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, in which she served until 2002.
She has become a prominent human rights and climate advocate since leaving office. Robinson led Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative from 2002-10, which championed the right to work, public health, and sustainable development throughout the world. In 2007, she was a founding member of The Elders. Robinson has additionally served in multiple posts as a UN Special Envoy–her term as Special Envoy for Climate Change saw the signing of the Paris Climate Agreement.
Robinson has been honoured with Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award, Spain’s Prince of Asturias Award, an Erasmus Prize, the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, and numerous other awards and honorary degrees. She has been involved with One Young World since 2014 and sits on our Global Advisory Board.
Ban Ki-moon first joined the foreign service in South Korea in 1970. In his three decades as a diplomat, Ban was posted in India, Austria, the United States, and Seoul. Following a stint as chief of staff to future Prime Minister Han Seung-soo, Ban was named Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade in January 2004. As Foreign Minister, he presided over diplomatic crises in Iraq and peace talks with North Korea.
In 2006, Ban was unexpectedly elected to succeed Kofi Annan as Secretary-General of the United Nations. He was unanimously re-elected in 2011, serving in the post until 2016. As Secretary-General, Ban won praise for his uncompromising pushes for climate action; he was influential in the creation and signing of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. He took an active role in the UN’s efforts to end the conflict in Darfur, making several trips to the region and personally persuading Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to allow UN peacekeeping troops into the country. In 2012, Ban delivered a landmark speech at the UN in support of LGBTQ+ rights and the decriminalisation of homosexuality.
Since leaving office at the UN, Ban has served on the International Olympic Committee’s Ethics Commission, co-founded the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens with former Austrian President Heinz Fischer, chaired the Boao Forum for Asia, and publicly supported climate action legislation, like the US Green New Deal. He joined The Elders in 2017 and began a two-year term as President of the Global Green Growth Institute in 2018.
Gro Harlem Brundtland
Trained as a doctor, Gro Harlem Brundtland entered politics in 1974 as Norway’s Minister for the Environment. She became the nation’s first female Prime Minister in 1981, ultimately serving three terms. Between her stints as Prime Minister, she was invited to chair the UN’s World Commission on Environment and Development; under her leadership, the commission published the landmark Brundtland Report in 1987. The report is widely credited with pioneering the concept of sustainable development on a global scale. As Prime Minister, her government-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian peace talks that resulted in the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993 and 1995.
After leaving office, Brundtland became the Director-General of the World Health Organization, serving from 1998-2003. She was named a UN Special Envoy for Climate Change in 2007 and became a founding member of the Elders later that year. Brundtland is additionally a member of the Club of Madrid, the Council of Women World Leaders, and the Norwegian Association for Women’s Rights. She has been honoured with the Indira Gandhi Prize, the Charlemagne Prize, and Scientific American’s Policy Maker of the Year recognition.
Having served as the Mozambican Minister of Education and Culture and as First Lady of both Mozambique and South Africa, Graça Machel has been one of the world’s highest-profile leaders since the 1970s. A veritable renaissance woman, Machel’s career as a politician, humanitarian, writer, activist, and stateswoman began when she returned to her native Mozambique to join the anti-colonial rebel Mozambican Liberation Front in 1973.
Following independence, Machel served simultaneously as First Lady and Minister for Education and Culture from 1975-86, continuing as minister for three years following her first husband’s death. She won widespread accolades for her advocacy for families displaced by the country’s civil war, receiving the UN’s Nansen Medal in 1995 and being named an honorary Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1997.
Machel became First Lady of South Africa when she married Nelson Mandela in 1998. She has since established herself as a leading world authority on women’s and children’s rights. She has represented her nation at a number of UNICEF and UNESCO conferences and advised multiple UN agencies, including the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health and the Every Woman Every Child Campaign.
Machel has served as chancellor of the University of Cape Town since 1999, as president of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies since 2012, and as chancellor of the African Leadership University since 2016. Along with her husband, she was a founding member of the Elders in 2007, and she has worked closely with their efforts to end child marriage. Machel additionally serves on the Africa Progress Panel, the Forum for African Women Educationalists, and as an Honorary Fellow of the British Academy. She has earned numerous honorary degrees and fellowships, civilian awards from a number of governments, and a World Children’s Prize.
Following an exile in Argentina due to his service in previous leftist governments, Ricardo Lagos rose to prominence in Chile as a vocal critic of Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship in the 1980s. He served as the President of the Democratic Alliance and the Committee of the Left for Free Elections. In 1988, Lagos defied previous reprisals against dissidents and boldly debated Pinochet on a televised political programme. His exhortation is widely credited with inspiring the people of Chile to take political action against the regime.
After democracy was established via plebiscite, Lagos served as a minister throughout the 1990s and was elected President of Chile in 2000. During his presidency, the nation brokered a number of lucrative trade deals, established a compensation process for victims of the Pinochet regime, expanded state education and housing, and improved the nation’s transit and public infrastructure.
Since leaving office in 2006, Lagos has established the Democracy and Development initiative, taught international relations and public policy at Brown University, served as President of the Club of Madrid, and worked as a UN Special Envoy on Climate Change from 2007-10. He joined the Elders in 2016. In this capacity, he has spoken extensively on the dangers of inequality in civil society and the global need for climate action.
One Young World is also delighted to welcome representatives of four “Sparks of Hope” organisations at the Summit. The Sparks are grassroots organisations that embody the change The Elders want to see in the world. Each one tells an inspirational story of how incredible people across the globe are working for peace, health, justice and equality.
These organisations were brought together to honour the 100th anniversary of The Elders’ founder, Nelson Mandela. They formed part of the #WalkTogether movement and The Elders continue to amplify their amazing work as shining examples of the values Madiba held dear.
Congratulations to the four who will attend #OYW2019 alongside The Elders.
Usha Kiran. India
My Choices Foundation
Usha is the Communications Manager and Program Officer at the Foundation.
She has worked for My Choices Foundation for over 2 years and actively contributes to their key initiatives- Operation Red Alert, an initiative to end human trafficking in India, and Operation PeaceMaker, an initiative to end gender-based violence and domestic violence.
She has contributed to a number of other projects, including the “I SEE IT”, a campaign against domestic violence in popular culture, and The Lotus Safe Home, a shelter home for survivors of domestic violence. In her efforts to spread awareness on gender-based violence and discrimination, she has trained multiple stakeholders such as the police, healthcare providers, Government officials and NGO representatives. She has ensured that over 80 women with disabilities in rural Telangana, who were survivors of domestic violence, received access to livelihood and skill development.
Godfrey Philimon Kamugisha. Tanzania
People’s Health Movement Tanzania
Godfrey is the Country Coordinator for People’s Health Movement (PHM) Tanzania as well as a health activist. He has led several mobilisation activities focusing on Universal Health Coverage. PHM Tanzania is currently a convener of 50 local NGOs working to address health and human rights issues in Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar. The 50 members represent NGOs members, academics, research institutions and community groups, health and human rights activists as well as individuals. PHM Tanzania welcomes new members every July in each year to join the movement. Strategies to advance health rights discourse include using social media, email, Whatsapp to mobilise and train new activists; engaging the community to change thinking and behaviour toward the right to health; using “informal media” like plays for education, advocacy, policy influence. The organisation is mainly engaged in popular education to hold the health system to account and is trying to build a culture of health as a field of civil society advocacy and intervention.
Marita Matilde Armindo Monjane. Mozambique
Marketing & After Sale Assistant, Loja de Energias (Rural Energy Shops)
Marita is a Marketing & After Sale Assistant at Loja de Energias, an enterprise which scales and systemises the building of sustainable energy microsystems, run by rural women, creating jobs and improving the health and economic wellbeing of communities.
She has worked for Loja de Energias Initiative since 2015. She currently works with communities’ rural off-grid areas and supports the organisation’s operations. A champion for women’s economic empowerment, she encourages women in communities to become entrepreneurs and start personal businesses to sell solar kits in order to address their energy access problem and stop indoor pollution by phasing out toxic kerosene fumes. She is active in her own community; she has introduced activities like beekeeping and aviculture in communities of illegal artisanal miners in Manica to cut dependence on illegal mining, improve nutrition and stop pollution. Marita is a member of FEMMIEs (Organization of Women Entrepreneurs in Mozambique), an organization that helped her to acquire Marketing, financial education knowledge and enterprise organization. She is currently pursuing Veterinary Medicine at Eduardo Mondlane University.
Nadav Weiman. Israel
Breaking The Silence
Nadav Weiman is Deputy Director of Breaking The Silence, an organization of veteran combatants who have served in the Israeli military since the start of the Second Intifada and have taken it upon themselves to expose the Israeli public to the reality of everyday life in the Occupied Territories. They endeavour to stimulate public debate about the price paid for a reality in which young soldiers face a civilian population on a daily basis, and are engaged in the control of that population’s everyday life. Their work aims to bring an end to the occupation.was born and raised in Tel Aviv.
During his army service, Nadav served in a snipers team at the special forces of the Nahal brigade, where he attained the rank of the first sergeant. He studied Democratic Education at Seminar Hakibbutzim College in Tel Aviv and taught history and literature in high school. Nadav also worked as the legal guardian and counsellor in a shelter for underprivileged youth located in Tel Aviv. He first joined BTS in 2012 as a Testifier-Activist, and today is the Deputy Director of the organisation.