Neha Patil (Editor)

Global Leadership Foundation

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The Global Leadership Foundation (GLF) is a not-for-profit, non-governmental organisation which exists to make available, discreetly and in confidence, the experience of former leaders to today’s national leaders.


It is a network of former Heads of State or Government and other distinguished leaders who make their personal experience and advice discreetly available to those in power today. Founded in 2004 by F.W. de Klerk, the former President of South Africa and Nobel Laureate, GLF is unique in that advice given by GLF Members to current Heads of State is done so strictly confidentially, with no publicity. GLF's approach bypasses protocol, ensures privacy, and ensures that if a leader is helped to take a successful initiative he or she can take all the credit for it, strengthening and reinforcing his credibility.

GLF Members work in small teams, in their personal capacity, to give advice on either general governance issues, or on specific issues of concern to Heads of Government. It is actively involved in relationships of this kind with leaders of government in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and elsewhere.


In an era in which effective governance is critical to the success of developing countries, new governments are bringing renewed hope to their peoples. In many countries, especially those most affected by recent internal revolt, new forces are coming out of the political wilderness with no experience of government or of working within an open society with free markets and democratic institutions. National leaders today face awesome challenges, expectations that can often not be fulfilled and a deluge of advice from international organizations, consultants and special interest groups. Unlike the chairman and chief executives of companies who can turn for discreet advice to some of the experienced non-executive directors on their Boards, political leaders can often feel isolated, lacking the advice of an objective civil service and unable to trust colleagues, friends and even family. Without good advice they are unable to take the initiatives needed to develop their countries peacefully.

This is where GLF can help. GLF comes with no agenda of its own, or of any other government or organization. It offers a leader impartial advice, given directly by former Heads of Government drawing on their own personal experience. GLF’s involvement can be general, on broad issues of governance, or it can be focussed on specific questions where a leader might welcome private advice – ranging, for example, from the working relationship between the Executive and Parliament, to advancing specific goals in infrastructure development, education, tourism or other priorities. The agenda is always set by the Head of Government, with GLF Members acting as personal, private political advisors.

GLF is not-for-profit; its Members have a wide range of experience yet are no longer candidates for office; they have no interest of their own, beyond being of help to current leaders facing challenges they themselves once faced. The advice given is private – GLF believes that credit for change should go to the leaders who take the tough decisions.

What kind of projects does GLF undertake?

GLF Membership constitutes a vast pool of individual experience and collective wisdom which has enabled the Foundation to mount projects covering a whole range of issues, including:

  • handling ethnic divisions
  • constitution making and electoral systems
  • policy towards the WTO
  • political initiatives to defuse conflict
  • security sector reform
  • Presidential office management
  • mediation to help ensure stability before and after elections
  • mediation to resolve institutional deadlock
  • the creation of a climate that is open to foreign investment
  • When specialist technical advice is required, such as business, banking and financial expertise or the development and exploitation of power generation, mining and agricultural resources, GLF can call upon outside support. GLF’s “panels of experts” are drawn both from its International Council, many of whose Members make their time and experience freely available to GLF, and from widely respected individuals known directly to GLF Members. GLF has good relations with the World Bank, IMF, UNDP and many like-minded NGOs in the governance and conflict management field, and has worked closely with many on past projects.

    Operating Principles

    Every project is different. GLF can act on its own initiative, at the invitation of a host government needing advice, at the suggestion of another government, or in partnership with a UN body, international financial institution or like-minded non-governmental organisation.

    GLF will consider requests from any government that is committed to, or aspires to, the principles of democratic institutions, human rights, open markets and the rule of law. The Foundation’s core principles are discretion, trust, integrity, neutrality and independence, and it will only engage with opposition parties if requested to do so by a Head of Government. GLF will not publicize the countries in which it works unless a leader with whom it is working wishes to make GLF’s involvement public.

    Who is GLF?

    GLF is a network built around its 33 Members. All are former Heads of State or Government or other distinguished leaders with first-hand experience of the difficulties of leadership. GLF Members contribute to the work of GLF as private individuals and are motivated by a desire to help current leaders face challenges that they themselves once faced.

    GLF Members

    There are currently 36 active Members of the Global Leadership Foundation:

  • FW de Klerk (Chairman) President, Republic of South Africa 1989-94
  • Joe Clark (Vice Chairman) Prime Minister, Canada 1979-80; Secretary of State for External Affairs 1984-1991
  • Carl Bildt Prime Minister, Sweden 1991-94; Foreign Minister 2006-14
  • Lakhdar Brahimi Foreign Minister, Algeria 1991-93; UN Special Adviser to the Secretary-General 2004-05
  • Micheline Calmy-Rey President, Swiss Confederation 2007 & 2011
  • Hikmet Cetin Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey 1978-79 & 1995; Foreign Minister, 1991–94
  • Baroness Linda Chalker Minister of Overseas Development, United Kingdom 1989-97
  • Pascal Couchepin President, Swiss Confederation 2003 & 2008
  • Chester A. Crocker US Assistant Secretary for African Affairs 1981-89
  • Marzuki Darusman Indonesia, Attorney General, 1999–2001
  • Tom Daschle USA, Senator 1987-2005, Member of the House of Representatives 1979-1987 and Majority Leader of the US Senate
  • Álvaro de Soto UN Under-Secretary-General 1999-2007
  • Mohamed ElBaradei Director General, International Atomic Energy Agency 1997-2009; Interim Vice President of Egypt, 2013
  • Amara Essy Foreign Minister, Côte d’Ivoire, 1990-2000; Secretary General, OAU 2001-2; Chairman, AU Commission 2002-3
  • Gareth Evans Foreign Minister, Australia 1988-96; President & CEO of the International Crisis Group 2000-09
  • Vicente Fox President of Mexico, 2000–06
  • Louise Fréchette UN Deputy Secretary-General 1998–2006
  • Prince Hassan bin Talal Jordan
  • Enrique V. Iglesias Foreign Minister, Uruguay, 1985–1988; President of Inter-American Development Bank 1988-2005
  • Chandrika Kumaratunga President of Sri Lanka, 1994-2005
  • Ketumile Masire President, Republic of Botswana 1980-1998
  • António Mascarenhas Monteiro President, Cape Verde 1991-2001
  • Donald F. McHenry US Ambassador to the UN 1979-81
  • P.J. Patterson Prime Minister, Jamaica 1992-2006
  • Thomas Pickering US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs 1997-2000; US Ambassador to the UN 1989-92
  • Fidel Valdez Ramos President, Republic of the Philippines 1992-98
  • José Ramos-Horta President of Timor-Leste, 2007–12, Prime Minister 2006-07
  • Elisabeth Rehn UN Under-Secretary-General 1998-99; UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights 1995-97; Minister of Defence (1990–95) and Equality Affairs (1991–95), Finland
  • Ghassan Salame Minister of Culture, Lebanon 2000–03 and Senior Advisor to the UN Secretary-General, 2003–06
  • Salim Ahmed Salim Prime Minister of Tanzania, 1984–1985; Secretary General, OAU, 1989–2001
  • Wolfgang Schüssel Federal Chancellor,Austria 2000–07; Foreign Minister 1995–2000
  • Jaswant Singh Foreign Minister of India, 1998-2002, Defence Minister 2001 and Finance Minister 1996, 2002–04
  • Javier Solana Foreign Minister of Spain 1992-1995 and Secretary General, Council of European Union 1999-2009; Secretary General, NATO 1995-1999;
  • Cassam Uteem President, Mauritius 1992-2002
  • Vaira Vike-Freiberga President, Republic of Latvia 1999-2007
  • Kaspar Villiger President, Swiss Confederation 1995 & 2002
  • Organisation

    With whom does GLF work ?

    GLF works with Heads of Government on conflict and governance-related issues. GLF will consider requests from any government that is committed to or aspires to the principles of democratic institutions, human rights, open markets and the rule of law. GLF engages with Governments, not with opposition parties (unless requested to do so by a Head of Government), and often works in partnership with UN agencies, the IMF, the World Bank and other NGOs working in the field of conflict prevention and development.

    GLF works on a confidential basis and does not publicize the countries in which it works unless a leader wishes to make GLF’s involvement public.

    How is GLF financed?

    GLF is a non-profit, independent foundation. It is funded by other foundations, corporations and private individuals and also aims to recover direct project costs from its clients. A list of GLF's donors can be found on its website.

    GLF exercises careful judgement case-by-case to ensure that it is not in receipt of funds from any source likely to be considered damaging to its reputation for probity or its need to preserve the confidentiality and objectivity of its operations.

    A limit is placed on donations from any one donor to preserve GLF’s independence

    GLF Structure

    GLF is registered in the Canton of Berne, Switzerland but its day-to-day operations are run by a small Secretariat based in London. The Foundation is served by a Board of Directors (appointed by GLF Members) and two Advisory Committees (appointed by the GLF Board). GLF Members FW de Klerk and Joe Clark are the Chairman and Vice Chairman respectively. The Secretariat is managed by a CEO, Sir Robert Fulton, who is appointed by the Board of Directors and who is responsible for the coordination of the activities of the organization.

    GLF has two associate foundation - GLF (UK) and GLF (USA). Both have charitable status and separate Boards. The GLF Secretariat manages the day-to-day affairs of all three Foundations.


    Founded in 2004, GLF has been engaged in countries around the world. However, because discretion is a key aspect of the Foundation’s concept and success, GLF does not publicly disclose the names of these countries unless the Head of Government of said country chooses to do so.

    Past projects include advice to leaders on the following:

    Economic reform: GLF’s advice and the mobilisation of the right expertise has encouraged and assisted the reorganisation of departments of finance, membership of international trade bodies and the creation and implementation of national financial development plans in fragile states. Elsewhere in the developing world, the issue of land tenure has been central to GLF’s work to help people escape from poverty.

    Resource Management GLF Members have worked with Heads of State and governments to put in place effective governance structures to deliver transparent and democratically accountable development of natural resources and socially responsible use of the revenues, leading to sustained improvements in the welfare of the people.

    Efficient governance GLF Members have worked with Heads of State to re-organise their offices to remove blocks to the effective delivery of the leader’s programme and the successful communication of his message.

    Access for humanitarian aid GLF’s ability to work with international non-governmental organisations has enabled them to address the requirement for adequate local governance arrangements without which it would not have been possible to distribute aid effectively and safely.

    Development of democratic institutions and elections The extensive experience of GLF Members from a broad spectrum of democratic traditions has played an important role in improving not only the effectiveness of the structure, establishment and administration defined by the Constitution but also the personal conduct of those who hold the key offices of State. Through meetings with the leaders of the main political parties and, where appropriate, with the military leadership as well as through advice and mentoring to the electoral commissioners, GLF has contributed to the lawful and peaceful conduct of elections in potentially divisive situations.

    Regional security Discreet discussions between GLF and a Head of State focused on persuading a leader to adopt a regional, as opposed to a purely national, response to a conflict in his neighbouring country, providing improved prospects of success and the relief of suffering.


    Global Leadership Foundation Wikipedia