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The Elders debate ethical leadership (South Africa)
an article by The Elders and Al Jazeera South2North (selections)

Videos: The Elders debate ethical leadership (part 1)

The Elders debate ethical leadership (part 2)

While in Cape Town for their biannual meeting, The Elders held a debate on ethical leadership. In part one Kofi Annan, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Hina Jilani and Desmond Tutu focus on the challenges of global governance and peace-building from Syria to South Africa. Moderated by South African journalist Redi Tlhabi, the debate was broadcast on Al Jazeera's South2North programme.. . .

click on photo to enlarge

"We need leaders like Madiba," says Tutu, referring to former South African president and Nobel Prize winner Nelson Mandela, who handpicked the initial Elders in 2007. "We need people who are not there for what they can get out; they are there for the sake of the people."

"To be bold; to have the courage of your convictions; and to think long-term, not short-term or for political expedience; those are characteristics common to good leaders," Bruntland tells the audience . . .

Jilani was appointed to The Elders in July 2013. She says part of what attracted her to the group was, "we don't just speak truth to power; we show wisdom to power."

The Elders debate whether military intervention is ever necessary; why prevention is always better than intervention; the difference between retributive justice and restorative justice; and balancing addressing the crimes of the past with the needs of the future. . .

In part two, Redi Tlhabi is joined by two Nobel Prize winners - former US President Jimmy Carter and former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari - as well as Mary Robinson, the first female president of Ireland and a former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Redi asks Robinson if the International Criminal Court (ICC) is racist, given the fact that almost all of its cases have involved African countries or leaders.

"There is a view at the moment that Africa is being singled out .... It's important that the system is seen as fair. There are problems now of perception and we have to address that," Robinson said.

Using the recent conviction of former Liberian President Charles Taylor by a special international tribunal as an example, Carter points out: "Most of the people brought to justice so far have been delivered by their own people."

Ahtisaari says it is harder for African leaders to excel, not just because of the additional issues they face but because they lack the kind of institutional support he had while at the helm in Finland: "Itís much more complicated to be a president in Africa because in many countries the institutions that are absolutely vital to run a country are not there" . . .

At the end of the show, Richard Branson, who co- founded The Elders with Peter Gabriel, called them, "an incredible group of global statesmen who put their egos behind them, politics behind them, who have no axes to grind, and who aren't trying to get elected. The Elders have played a wonderful role in the last six years".


Question(s) related to this article:

Where in the world can we find good leadership today?,

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Latest reader comment:

Once again, as they have done now each year since 2009, the Nobel Women's Initiative provides biographies of 16 women leaders involved in local action for peace and justice around the world, and in particular to stop violence against women. †Last year's biographies were listed in the CPNN discussionboard.

This report was posted on November 17, 2013.