The former president of Liberia, along with the former president of Colombia and the previous head of United Nations Human Rights organization, are the newest inductees into the illustrious grouping of The Elders. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf joined Juan Manuel Santos and UN Human Rights Chief Zeid Raad Al Hussein in the elite group last week.
Founded in 2007 by South Africa’s Nelson Mandela, The Elders are mandated to “support courage where there is fear, foster agreement where this is conflict and inspire hope where there is despair.” The Elders have led several interventions in Sudan, South Sudan, Ivory Coast, Zimbabwe, Kenya and North Africa.
A statement from the Elders said: The Elders announced today with great pleasure that three new members have joined the group: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of Liberia and Nobel Peace Laureate 2011; Juan Manuel Santos, former President of Colombia and Nobel Peace Laureate 2016; and Zeid Raad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights 2014-18.
“Ellen, Juan Manuel and Zeid each bring valuable and distinctive perspectives on issues that are central to our work, from human rights and peacebuilding to gender equality and justice for all,’‘ said Mary Robinson, the chair of The Elders.
“It is an honor to follow in the footsteps of great Africans like Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Tutu and Kofi Annan. The Elders’ work to promote justice, equality and human rights is needed more than ever. I look forward to working with them to inspire people everywhere, particularly women and girls, to reach for their true potential, break through barriers and pursue their dreams,” said Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
For his part, Juan Manuel Santos said: “The Elders’ work to promote peace and support efforts to end the world’s most intractable conflicts is a crucial force for good. I hugely appreciated their encouragement and counsel as my administration negotiated the Colombia peace process in 2016. Today, I am honored and delighted to join them and support their efforts to promote peace, justice and reconciliation worldwide.”
Adding his comments on the announcement, Zeid Raad Al Hussein said: “In an age when poor leadership, injustice and suffering is rife, The Elders’ vision of a world where people live in peace and are conscious of their common humanity is essential. Inspired by the legacy of Nelson Mandela, their mission helps ensure human rights are respected, and oppression overcome. I am honored to join this illustrious group and work with them for a better world.”