Several members acknowledged that the actual activities and actions of the group remain to be determined. There are no titles, no ranking of the members. And it is not clear if they will travel as a group, deploy individual members to global hot spots, or simply sit in a room together to develop strategies or assist those who are suffering find help.
But they certainly have high hopes.
"I didn't like the title "elders," because I didn't feel like an elder," said Yunus to laughter, "but I like the idea."
Yunus said the world is without direction and he hopes the Elders can provide some direction.
Speaking of the Elders, almost in the way one would describe a cartoon about superheroes, Mandela said, "The Elders can become a fiercely independent and positive force for good."
Annan added that the group does not "intend to go and take on Darfur or Somalia and resolve it singlehandedly. We don't have a magic wand," he said. But he argued that the group could intervene and perhaps force parties to honor agreements.
"There are certain crimes that shame us all," said Annan. "We all have a responsibility, and I hope the Elders will take the lead in asking the question: What can we do to move the situation forward?
"Sometimes by saying 'this is enough we can't take this anymore it must stop,' we are making a difference," Annan continued
Mandela and Branson both celebrated birthdays today. At 89, Mandela looked frail. He walked with a cane and Carter helped him to the podium. But once Mandela got there, he stood tall and easily delivered some 10 minutes of remarks.
"He, as you know, walks sedately," Tutu joked.