Salim Ahmed Salim is one of Africa’s most senior diplomats and statesmen. He recently concluded service as the African Union’s Special Envoy for Darfur.
Dr. Salim began his political career in international diplomacy, serving Tanzania in numerous ambassadorial posts, including to Egypt, India, and China, and serving as Permanent Representative to the UN starting in 1970. Six years later, he was elected President of the United Nations Security Council and went on to serve as President of the Thirty-Fourth Session of the United Nations General Assembly in September 1979.
He returned to Tanzania to take up a major role in domestic politics, holding several senior ministerial positions as well as that of Prime Minister.
He then resumed his international work, serving as Secretary General of the Organisation of African Unity from 1989 to 2001, overseeing its transformation into the African Union.
As Chair of the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonisation, Dr. Salim helped entrench a new era of independence across the continent. A leading figure in the fight against apartheid, he served as the Chairman of the United Nations Security Council Commission on Sanctions against Rhodesia, President of the International Conference on Sanctions against South Africa and President of the Paris International Conference on Apartheid. In recognition of his contribution to Africa he has been awarded numerous national honours from an array of African countries, including Togo, Rwanda and Liberia.
Among his many roles, he is a member of the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) on Small Arms and Light Weapons, the board of the South Centre, the Policy Advisory Commission, and the World Intellectual Property Organization. He is also a member of the Foundation Council of the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue based in Geneva. He chairs the advisory board of South Africa’s Institute of Security Studies and the international board of Africa Humanitarian Action based in Ethiopia. On behalf of the African Development Bank he acts as African Water Ambassador, mobilising support on African water issues.
Martti Ahtisaari, a diplomat and mediator renowned for his international peace work, was awarded the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize “for his important efforts, on several continents and over more than three decades, to resolve international conflicts". Mr Ahtisaari became the first directly elected President of the Republic of Finland in 1994 and held office until 2000. Foreign governments and the United Nations have called upon him throughout his career in some of the world’s most difficult conflicts. Most recently he has served as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Kosovo.
Mr. Ahtisaari has also facilitated the peace process between the government of Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement, chaired the independent panel on security and safety of UN personnel in Iraq, served as UN special envoy for the Horn of Africa, and inspected the Irish Republican Army’s arms dumps (alongside Cyril Ramaphosa).
In 1977, he was appointed UN Commissioner for Namibia and the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Namibia the following year, ultimately helping to supervise Namibia’s first elections. Mr. Ahtisaari holds honorary citizenship of Namibia in recognition of this work.
Upon leaving the Presidency of Finland, Mr. Ahtisaari founded the Crisis Management Initiative, where he serves as chairman of the board. He also served as co-chairman of the New York-based EastWest Institute during 2005. He is a member of the joint advisors’ group for the Open Society Institute and the Soros Foundations, and serves as chairman of both the Balkan Children and Youth Foundation and the Global Action Council of the International Youth Foundation.
In 2004, Martti Ahtisaari was awarded the Order of the Companions of Oliver Tambo (Supreme Companion) by South Africa.
Aïcha Bah Diallo, a champion of girls’ and women’s learning, serves as adviser to the Director-General of UNESCO on girls’ education in Africa. Mme Bah Diallo played a guiding role in the formation of the Forum of African Women Educationalists (FAWE) in 1992, and served as its president.
Mme. Bah Diallo was appointed Minister of Education of Guinea in 1990, and served in that post for six years. There she pioneered work on lowering barriers to education for girls, noting that poverty was the primary problem, but that the distance of schools from family homes and concerns about the girls' safety also played a part. During her time in office, the number of girls enrolled in school surged from 113,000 to 233,000.
At the Ministry of Education she enlisted a team of strong managers and became widely known throughout the country as the leader of education reform in Guinea, redeploying nearly one third of the country's teachers from urban to rural schools, as well as from administration to teaching, and from secondary to primary schools. From 2000 to 2005, Mme. Bah Diallo was a senior education leader of UNESCO, serving as Director for Basic Education, Deputy Assistant Director-General for Education, and as acting Assistant Director-General for Education. She is the former chair of UNESCO's Advisory Committee for Education in Africa.
Prior to her service as Minister of Education in Guinea, Mme. Bah Diallo was Chief of Cabinet at the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation (1986-1989) and also served as the Director of International Relations and Projects at the Ministry of Women and Social Affairs (1984-1986).
Mohamed ElBaradei has served with distinction for more than four decades as an Egyptian diplomat, international civil servant and scholar. He is the former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), an intergovernmental organisation in the United Nations system. Dr ElBaradei is also a member of the International Law Association and the American Society of International Law.
Dr. ElBaradei’s diplomatic career began in 1964 in the Egyptian Ministry of External Affairs, where he served in the Permanent Missions of Egypt to the United Nations in New York and in Geneva, in charge of political, legal, and arms control issues. He was also a special assistant to the Egyptian Foreign Minister.
He joined the United Nations in 1980, became a senior staff member of the IAEA in 1984, and was appointed Director General in 1997. He began a third four-year term as Director General in September 2005. From 1981 to 1987, he was also an Adjunct Professor of International Law at New York University.
Dr. ElBaradei has received many awards, decorations and honorary degrees for his work as an advocate of tolerance and humanity. These include national honours from his native Egypt and from Algeria, as well as The Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Award.
In 2005, Dr. ElBaradei and the IAEA were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize "for their efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is used in the safest possible way".
Graça Machel is a leading social and political activist as well as a renowned international advocate for women’s and children’s rights. Over decades of hard work, concentrated in Mozambique and South Africa but encompassing the whole of the continent, she has fought for increased literacy and access to education, greater assistance for community development, and childrens’ rights.
As Education Minister of Mozambique, Dr Machel lowered the illiteracy rate by 20 percent and oversaw a dramatic increase in primary school enrolment.
Dr Machel produced a ground-breaking United Nations Report on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children. Her research helped establish a comprehensive agenda for the protection of children in conflict zones.
In 1994, Dr Machel founded the Foundation for Community Development, a grassroots NGO that works to bring together the forces of all sectors of society to promote development, democracy and social justice.
Dr Machel has been married to Nelson Mandela since 1998. The widow of the Mozambican President Samora Machel who died in 1986, Graça Machel's work has redefined the role of First Lady in Africa.
Graça Machel also sits on the board of a number of international organisations including The Elders, The African Leadership Forum and the International Crisis Group. Her outstanding humanitarian contributions have been recognised by a number of awards, including the Laureate of Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger from the Hunger Project, the Nansen Medal for her service to the cause of child refugees, the Africare Distinguished Humanitarian Service Award and the Council of Europe's prestigious North-South Prize.
Festus Gontebanye Mogae served as the third President of Botswana between 1998 and 2008. Immediately prior to becoming President, he served as Vice President of Botswana and Minister of Finance and Development Planning. This followed a long career as a civil servant including posts with the International Monetary Fund and the Bank of Botswana.
His time in office was characterised by programmes to develop education and health infrastructure, and he initiated policies to privatise some of Botswana’s public enterprises. Under President Mogae’s stewardship of the economy and sound management of the country’s natural resources, Botswana experienced the steady economic growth that has characterised its post-independence history. Having been one of the poorest African countries at independence in 1966, Botswana has graduated into a middle income country due to prudent economic management and political stability.
After leaving office, President Mogae launched ‘Champions for an HIV-Free Generation’, a group of former African Presidents and other influential personalities, which aims to strengthen efforts to prevent the spreads of HIV-AIDS in Africa. He is globally recognised as one of the leading personalities in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Between 2008 and 2009 he served as one of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Envoys on Climate Change. President Mogae serves on a number of international boards including being convener of the Coalition for Dialogue on Africa (CoDA).
President Mogae is the recipient of a number of awards and honours. n 2002, the Africa-America Institute awarded him its National Leadership Award, which had been presented only once before to Nelson Mandela. In March 2008, he was awarded the Grand Cross of the Légion d'honneur by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. He is also the recipient of the 2008 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership.
Mary Robinson has been a leading campaigner for human rights throughout her life. She served as the first female President of Ireland between 1990 and 1997. At the end of her tenure, in recognition of her commitment to justice and equality, she was appointed as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, a position she held between 1997 and 2002.
Dr Robinson is widely recognised for having developed a new level of engagement between Ireland and the developing world during her Presidency. She was the first head of state to visit famine stricken Somalia, and the first to visit Rwanda after the genocide.
Since leaving the UN in 2002, Dr Robinson has continued to champion developing world issues through the founding of Realizing Rights, an ethical globalisation initiative focusing on developing fair and equitable trade, strengthening responses to HIV/AIDS and shaping more humane migration policies.
Dr Robinson has received widespread recognition for her efforts in the international arena. In 2004, she was made an Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience'. She is the honorary president of Oxfam International and a member of the Global Elders. In 2009 Dr Robinson was awarded the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honour, by President Barrack Obama. She is a leader in the Club of Madrid of former democratic heads of state and government, as well as a founding member and Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders. Among her awards are the North-South Prize (1997), the Sydney Peace Prize (2002), the prestigious Otto Hahn Peace Medal in Gold (2003) and the Social Science Principe de Asturias Prize (2006). Dr Robinson is the 24th, and first female, Chancellor of the University of Dublin.