In 2007 Sir Richard Branson and Peter Gabriel worked with Nelson Mandela to set up The Elders, an organisation of distinguished people from across the world, to help work on the socio-political scene for justice, human rights and fairness within societies and nations.
The Elders are independent world leaders who are no longer in political office and thus not bound by their vote banks. They bring together years of wisdom working through public life in various areas which can help guide righteous policies especially in conflict situations. For instance Kofi Annan recently went on an assignment on the Syria crisis. Jimmy Carter helped on the Darfur crisis. They have worked on the Palestinian situation, Cyprus reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.
Jon Snow led a lively debate at the Barbican Centre on 2nd July 2012 with the former US President Jimmy Carter, the Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the former President of Ireland Mary Robinson.
Responding to questions from the very learned audience Jimmy Carter said that Democracy may well be considered as ‘bought’ in America on the grounds of uncapped advertising money being used to promote candidates but the fact that every four years people can vote you out the underlying system still gives you the comfort that a democracy is supposed to provide. But Mary Robinson added that the uncapped advertising money actually she feels is a form of corruption of democracy.
Mary Robinson spoke of protecting the vulnerable from climate change and wanted Climate-Justice for all. Sustainability must include the people who have no voice.
Answering a question on Gays Desmond Tutu, who was lovingly called ‘Arch’ throughout the debate said that just as racism we now find evil he finds that Homophobia must also be evil. He said on race we do not have any control over, it is simply a matter of fact and although we all come from Africa – at this point Jon Snow said that he is 2% African and the Arch joked, “yes, I can see it from your complexion and your silver hair”, to which Jon replied “well I dye my hair!” – Arch continued and perplexed that Gays have no or little control over their condition so it is almost like race and how can people not understand their condition.
It was a very enjoyable debate with The Elders who are global movers and shakers, exercising their independence and imparting wisdom.
Hindu Council UK
Photo Courtesy: Jeff Moore/The Elders