Martti Ahtisaari is the former president of Finland and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2008 for his efforts to resolve international hostilities on several continents over more than three decades. An outstanding international mediator and speaker.
Martti Ahtisaari is a veteran negotiator who has played a leading role in peace deals in several regions of the world.
Over a long career, Mr. Ahtisaari has earned a reputation as a diplomat able to handle the thorniest of problems. He played a particularly important role in the 2005 peace accord between Indonesia and rebels in Aceh province. The deal ended a three-decade conflict in which 15,000 people died, helping win him the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize. The citation said his efforts had contributed to a more peaceful world and to “fraternity between nations”.
In 2008, Mr. Ahtisaari also received UNESCO’s Felix Houphouet-Boigny Peace Prize for his lifetime contribution to world peace.
Born in 1937, Mr. Ahtisaari trained as a primary school teacher before joining Finland’s Foreign Ministry in 1965. He has made a distinguished career with the United Nations and the Finnish Foreign Ministry. He led the independence process of Namibia acting as the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Namibia between 1978 and 1988 and leading the UN operation (UNTAG) in 1989-1990. It remains his proudest achievement. He says it was “absolutely the most important because it took such a long time”. He is an Honorary Citizen of Namibia.
Mr. Ahtisaari acted as the Under-Secretary General in the UN for Administration and Management between 1987 and 1991. In 1993, he was appointed special adviser to the UN secretary-general on former Yugoslavia, but a year later was elected president of Finland on a social democrat ticket.
Acting for the EU, in 1999 Mr. Ahtisaari helped persuade then Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to accept NATO’s terms for ending the war in Kosovo.
He decided to bow out of Finnish politics in 2000, setting up the Crisis Management Initiative which works to promote peace and crisis resolution. He remains its chairman.
In 2000, he drafted a report on the human rights and political situation in Austria after the far-right Freedom Party’s entry into a coalition government. The next year, he served as an independent arms inspector in Northern Ireland. He has maintained strong links with the UN, heading an investigation into its security after a devastating car bomb attack on its Baghdad headquarters in August 2003.
In 2005, he again returned to the international spotlight when he organised talks between Indonesia’s government and the Free Aceh Movement, who eventually signed a peace deal to end a 30-year uprising.
In the same year, he led intense mediation efforts to clinch a joint agreement between Serbia and Kosovo, although the push failed after Pristina unilaterally declared independence.
Today, Martti Ahtisaari is active in numerous non-governmental and non-profit organisations. As well as being Chairman of the Board of the Crisis Management Initiative, he is also Chairman of the Independent Commission on Turkey, member of the Elders, Co-Chair in European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), member of the Silatech Board of Trustees and member of the Prize Committee of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation. He serves as Co-Chairman of the EastWest Institute. He served as a Director of Elcoteq SE (formerly Elcoteq Network Corp.), since 2000 until April 2011. He serves as a Director of Inter Press Service International Association and as a Director of UPM-Kymmene Corp., since 2000.
He has received numerous recognitions; Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Award, Tribute of Appreciation by the Department of State of the USA, UNESCO Peace Prize and holds several Honorary Degrees from various universities all over the world
It is his firm belief that all conflicts can be resolved and his current main tasks deal with conflict resolution, peacebuilding and statebuilding. Martti Ahtisaari believes strongly of the European values and the potential of the European Union in the international scene and is an ardent supporter of transatlantic cooperation.
- Conflict resolution and management
- Negotiation and mediation
- Transatlantic co-operation
- Poverty reduction and youth employment
- International politics and economics
- Development politics
- Youth employment and entrepreneurship