Historic accomplishments and continued efforts for peace saw the Arch continuing his work with the Elders, the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre and justice for his friend, the Dalai Lama.
In 2007, the “Arch” joined former President Nelson Mandela; former U.S. President Jimmy Carter; retired U.N Secretary General Kofi Annan; and former Irish President Mary Robinson to form The Elders, a private initiative mobilizing the experience of senior world leaders outside of the conventional diplomatic process. He was selected to chair the group. Subsequent to this, Carter and Tutu travelled together to Darfur, Gaza and Cyprus in an effort to resolve long-standing conflicts. His historic accomplishments and his continuing efforts to promote peace in the world were formally recognized by the United States in 2009, when President Barack Obama named him to receive the nation’s highest civilian honour, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The “Arch” officially retired from public life on 7 October 2010. However, he continues with his involvement with the Elders and Nobel Laureate Group and his support of the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre. He did, however, step down from his positions as Chancellor of the University of the Western Cape and as a representative on the UN’s advisory committee on the prevention of genocide.
In the week leading to his 80th birthday, the Dalai Lama, who went into exile in 1959 after leading an uprising against Chinese rule, was invited by Tutu to deliver the inaugural Desmond Tutu International Peace lecture during the three-day celebration of Tutu’s 80th birthday in Cape Town.
By 4 October 2011, the Dalai Lama had still not been granted a visa and he therefore cancelled his trip, saying that he was not going to come to South Africa after all, as the South African government found it ‘inconvenient’ and he did not want to place any individual or the Government in an untenable position. South Africans from across the socio-political spectrum, religious leaders, academics and civil society, united in condemning the Government’s actions. In a rare show of fury, the “Arch” launched a blistering attack on the ANC and President Jacob Zuma, venting his anger at the Government’s position regarding the Dalai Lama. Tutu and the Dalai Lama did go on to write a book together nonetheless.