The Elders are a newly formed peace group interested in peace missions. The group is made up of many famous folks, including former South African President Nelson Mandela and former US president Jimmy Carter. From their website:
We, the Elders, are here because we care deeply for the fate of our planet, and we feel intensely the suffering of millions of people in Darfur who yearn for nothing more than peace and dignity.
The group, in similar style to the United Nations (UN), hopes to boast powerful world leaders and address needs in human suffering around the world. The first step will be possibly one of the biggest battles to tackle in current history: Darfur, Sudan. The crisis there has been brewing violently for four years now, forcing over 2 million people to flee and live in refugee camps. The BBC reports this week:
"The United Nations Security Council has approved a 26,000-strong peacekeeping force to replace the 7,000 African Union (AU) observer mission struggling to protect civilians in Sudan's western province of Darfur.While the AU and UN struggle to bring lasting peace to Darfur, The Elders hope to become a peaceful force in the struggle. Will it be enough among the ensuing violence? The Christian Science Monitor is hopeful this week.
In Sudan, where African Union mediators, Hollywood stars, and even the pope have failed to secure a lasting peace, South Africa's retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his group of retired statesmen, The Elders, are stepping in.
...Sending an elder statesman, with no political stake in the outcome, to seek a peaceful solution is a proven conflict-resolution tool. Retired Sen. George Mitchell, for example, was instrumental in bringing peace to Northern Ireland. And if one elder statesman has an edge, will a bevy of them ensure success?
The Elders have already begun to talk directly with the local community leaders and displaced people living in camps. The beginnings of their journey were met with an up-close look at the violence and despair found there.
Many people are shocked to hear of what The Elders are trying to do. Their mission is both radical and naive, many say. But as the U.N. and U.S. continue to lose the small-stepped and meek battle of force they dabble in there, it is my sincere hope that The Elders bring peace through peaceful strides and worldwide support in Darfur.