The Five Elders are a council of the five highest-ranking Celestial Dragons ( illuminati families ?) who act as the public heads of the World Government. They essentially hold the greatest authority over the world at large as far as public knowledge is concerned, although they secretly act as figureheads for the government’s shadow leader Imu, who occupies the Empty Throne.
The Five Elders’ political sway over the World Government, its subsidiary organizations, agencies, and military branches is paramount and near illimitable, including holding absolute command over Cipher Pol ( cia ?), the Marines, and (prior to their disbandment) the Seven Warlords of the Sea, thus controlling two of the Three Great Powers. As of now, it is unknown how the Elders acquired their positions and how long they have been in power, but they are almost always found residing in the Room of Authority in Pangaea Castle.