The decision was unanimously reached by the Elders at their latest biannual meeting in Ireland this week. Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway, will become Deputy Chair of the organisation.
Archbishop Tutu, who was Chair of The Elders since the group was convened by Nelson Mandela in 2007, had announced his intention to step down. He will remain as an honorary Elder.
The Elders is an independent group of global leaders who work together for peace and human rights. They were brought together in 2007 by Nelson Mandela, who is not an active member of the group but remains an Honorary Elder. The Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was also an Honorary Elder, until her election to the Burmese parliament in April 2012.
A statement posted on the group’s website read: “The Elders celebrate the “compassion, ethical leadership and belief in undying hope” that Desmond Tutu has championed, and look ahead to the growth of the organisation under Kofi Annan’s chairmanship.”
Kofi Annan said:
“I am honoured and privileged to have been chosen by my fellow Elders to succeed Desmond Tutu as Chair of such a distinguished set of individuals. I am also very grateful that Gro Harlem Brundtland – with whom I’ve worked closely at the UN – has accepted to join me as Deputy Chair.
“Together, our group of Elders possesses a considerable amount of international experience, but to apply this collective knowledge in the most effective way remains daunting. As Desmond Tutu himself often says, we are still ‘learning to Elder’.
“I trust that this young Foundation will continue to grow in its ability to inspire compassion, ethical leadership and a belief in undying hope which Desmond Tutu, throughout his life and as our Chair, has always championed.”
Desmond Tutu said:
“As Elders we should always oppose Presidents for Life. After six wonderful years as Chair, I am sad to say that it was time for me to step down. I am looking forward to spending more time with my family.
“I am very fortunate to have become friends, over those years, with some of the world’s outstanding leaders. They are exceptionally generous and magnanimous people. It has been mind-blowing, for a former ghetto urchin like me, to have them sit under my gavel.
“Kofi is a brave, humble and dedicated leader. I have no doubt that he will steer this group to new heights. And with Gro as his deputy, there will truly be no stopping us!”