“Iran has lost one of its most influential leaders and a strong voice for reform and for the improvement of regional relations,” said Annan, who also chairs The Elders, an international non-governmental organisation of public figures noted as elder statesmen, peace activists, and human rights advocates.
“President Rafsanjani understood that a rapprochement between the main leaders of Sunni and Shia Islam is crucial for international stability. I hope his pragmatic approach will be continued for the benefit of the people of Iran and the region,” he added in his message.
According to a report by IFP, The Elders also expressed their condolences at the death of Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the former President of Iran who passed away at the age of 82.
In their statement, The Elders said President Rafsanjani was a key figure in Iran’s political life since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, becoming a forceful advocate for domestic political reform and wider engagement with the international community – including strong support for the P5+1 nuclear agreement concluded in 2015.
The Elders met President Rafsanjani during their visit to Iran in January 2014, when they discussed regional conflicts and wider geopolitical questions.
Martti Ahtisaari, an Elder and international conflict mediator, said, “I am saddened to hear of the death of President Rafsanjani. When he met the Elders’ delegation in 2014, we held fruitful discussions and he gave us good advice on regional security issues, the need to address root causes of conflict, and the importance of negotiating in good faith to solve complex geopolitical issues.”
“It is crucial that Iran, regional powers and all parties to the nuclear agreement maintain their commitment to peace and security in the months ahead,” Ahtisaari added.
The Elders were brought together by Nelson Mandela in 2007. They describe themselves as “independent global leaders working together for peace and human rights”.
The goal Mandela set for the Elders was to use their “almost 1,000 years of collective experience” to work on solutions for seemingly insurmountable problems such as climate change, HIV/AIDS, and poverty, as well as to “use their political independence to help resolve some of the world’s most intractable conflicts”.