Conflict, Dialogue and Peace : Speaking Truth to Power

Panel Discussion with The Elders
Thursday, 29 May 2014

On Thursday 29th May 2014 the Centre hosted a Panel Discussion with The Elders on ‘Conflict, Dialogue and Peace: Speaking Truth to Power’ at the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford. The Panel Discussion (moderated by the Centre’s Director) formed part of a series of events and lectures inaugurated by the HRH The Prince of Wales in 1993 in his lecture, ‘Islam and the West’. Other lectures in the series have been given by Mr Nelson Mandela in 1997 and Mr Kofi Annan in 1999.

The Elders on the Panel were Mr Kofi Annan (former UN Secretary-General), President Jimmy Carter (former US President); Ms Hina Jilani (Human Rights lawyer) and President Mary Robinson (former President of Ireland). Other Elders present at the event included President Martti Ahtisaari (former President of Finland) and Ms Ela Bhatt (Founder, Self-Employed Women’s Association, India). The Elders were accompanied by their Advisory Council and spoke to a capacity Sheldonian audience.

As the Director noted in his introduction, The Elders have an unparalleled wealth of experience in statecraft, leadership and diplomacy and, in the words of their founder Nelson Mandela, have been gathered with the mission to ‘speak truth to power’. Introducing the Panel Discussion itself, the Chair of The Elders, Mr Kofi Annan, reiterated their commitment to using their collective experience and influence in the service of peace, justice and human rights and defined their three primary goals as: a just and inclusive global community, freedom from fear and freedom from want.

Themes addressed by The Elders included how to resolve conflict and advance human rights, what ‘good governance’ involves, how to address sectarianism and ethnic division, and why women have a crucial role to play in peacebuilding. The Vice-Chancellor of the University of fcOxford, Professor Andrew Hamilton, proposed the vote of thanks.

Working publicly and through private diplomacy, The Elders engage with global leaders and civil society to help resolve conflict and address its root causes, to challenge injustice, to promote good governance and to inspire ethical leadership.

The event was streamed online worldwide and can be accessed via:


The Elders