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ABOUT
MARTTI AHTISAARI

Martti Ahtisaari

Martti Ahtisaari is a former UN diplomat, a Finnish statesman and a renowned peace mediator in international conflicts. Upon leaving office of President of Finland, he founded the Crisis Management Initiative in 2000. In 2008 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his leading role in bringing independence to Namibia, Serbia’s withdrawal from Kosovo, and autonomy for Aceh in Indonesia.

Former President of Finland Martti Ahtisaari is the founder of CMI. He has played a leading role in peace deals in several parts of the world. In 2000, Ahtisaari declined the offer of the then-Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, of the post of Secretary General of the UN High Commission for Refugees. Ahtisaari felt he could make a greater contribution to peacemaking by directly tackling the root causes of conflicts. To this end, that same year he established the Crisis Management Initiative, the aim of which was to help the international community to engage in preventive diplomacy and peacebuilding. Since then, CMI has grown to become one of the leading specialists in conflict prevention and resolution.

Life in peace mediation

Martti Ahtisaari was elected President of the Republic of Finland in early 1994 and served one term in office, until early 2000. After leaving the presidency, he took on various tasks in the areas of peace mediation and conflict resolution. In 2005, he helped facilitate the peace process between the Government of Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement. From late 2005 to early 2008 Ahtisaari was Special Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations for the future status process for Kosovo. Martti Ahtisaari was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2008 for, as the Nobel Committee’s press statement put it, “his important efforts, on several continents
and over more than three decades, to resolve international conflicts”. Although a wholehearted global citizen, Ahtisaari is far from being a rootless cosmopolitan. The Finnish and Nordic model of social justice remains of crucial importance to his thinking, and he is an ardent believer and proponent of the Nordic welfare state model as an inspiration for others throughout the world.

Biography
CV
Career milestones
Press photos

MARTTI AHTISAARI
A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY

After a distinguished career in the United Nations and the Finnish Foreign Ministry, Martti Ahtisaari was elected President of the Republic of Finland in 1994. He held office until early 2000.

In 2000, Martti Ahtisaari founded Crisis Management Initiative (CMI), a non-governmental organisation, to continue his legacy in conflict resolution. For his life’s work Ahtisaari was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2008.

Upon leaving office in 2000, Ahtisaari has served in a variety of key international roles, including facilitating the peace process between the Government of Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement, chairing an independent panel on the security and safety of UN personnel in Iraq, and appointments as UN Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa and as Personal Envoy of the OSCE CiO for Central Asia. Between 2005 and 2008, Ahtisaari was Special Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations for the future status process for Kosovo.

President Ahtisaari has been active in numerous non-governmental capacities. He has Chaired or Co-Chaired International Crisis Group, East-West Institute, Interpeace, European Council on Foreign Relations, Independent Commission on Turkey and CMI.

Martti Ahtisaari is married to Eeva Ahtisaari. They have a son.

A biography of Martti Ahtisaari by Katri Merikallio and Tapani Ruokanen has been published
in Finnish in 2011 under the title Matkalla, and in English in 2015 as The Mediator by Hurst Publishers.

 

Biography
CV
Career milestones
Press photos

MARTTI AHTISAARI
CURRICULUM VITAE

Mr. Ahtisaari was elected President of the Republic of Finland in February 1994. He held office from the 1st of March 1994 to the 29th of February 2000. Soon after leaving office, Mr. Ahtisaari founded the Crisis Management Initiative (CMI). In 2005, Ahtisaari and CMI facilitated the peace process between the Government of Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement. Between 14 November 2005 and 29 February 2008, Ahtisaari was Special Envoy to the Secretary-General of the United Nations for the future status process for Kosovo. Martti Ahtisaari was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2008.

Professional history

Martti Ahtisaari was for much of his career a civil servant
in the Finnish Foreign Ministry and the United Nations.

Various posts in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, 1965-1973

Ambassador of Finland to the United Republic of Tanzania, 1973-1976,
accredited to Zambia, Somalia and Mozambique, 1975- 1976

Member of the Senate of the UN Institute for Namibia, 1975-1976
United Nations Commissioner for Namibia, 1977-1981
Special Representative of the Secretary General for Namibia, 1978-1988

Undersecretary of State in charge of International Development
Co-operation in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, 1984-1986

Undersecretary-General the UN for Administration and Management 1987-1991,
leading the UN operation (UNTAG) in Namibia, 1989-1990

State Secretary in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, 1991-1993

Chairman of the Bosnia-Herzegovina Working Group
of the International Conference on the former Yugoslavia, 1992-1993,
and Special Adviser to the International Conference on the former Yugoslavia
and to the Secretary General’s Special Representative for former Yugoslavia in 1993

President of the Republic of Finland, 1994-2000

In 1999, during his remaining time as President of Finland Mr. Ahtisaari,
former Prime-Minister of Russia Victor Chernomyrdin, and US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott facilitated together the withdrawal of the Yugoslav/Serbian military and security forces from Kosovo and the establishment there of an international security and civil presence.

Post presidential tasks

Upon completion of his one term in office as President of Finland, Martti Ahtisaari founded the Crisis Management Initiative, an NGO dedicated to conflict resolution, crisis management and peace mediation, in year 2000.

Co-drafting of a report on the human rights and political situation in Austria in 2000

Inspector of the IRA’s arms dumps with fellow inspector Cyril Ramaphosa, 2000

Chair of the independent panel on the security and safety of UN personnel in Iraq, 2003

Personal Envoy of the OSCE CiO for Central Asia, 2003-2004

UN Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, 2003-2005

Facilitator in the peace process between the Government of Indonesia and
the Free Aceh Movement in 2005. The process led to the signing of a Memorandum
of Understanding, thereby ending three decades of conflict in Aceh.

Special Envoy to the Secretary-General of the United Nations
for the future status process for Kosovo, 2005-2008

Chairman of the Board, International Crisis Group

Co-Chair of the Board, the East-West Institute

Co-Chair of the European Council on Foreign Relations

Member of the Prize Committee of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation

Founder of the Independent Commission on Turkey

Emeritus Member of The Elders

 

Education

Mr. Ahtisaari graduated from the University of Oulu in 1959 and received an Honorary Doctorate (Pedagogy) from the University in 1989. He holds several Honorary Doctorates from a variety of fields and countries.

Awards

President Ahtisaari has received numerous awards and decorations:

Hononary Citizen of Namibia, 1992

Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Award, 2000

The Hessen Peace Prize, 2000

The J. William Fulbright Award for International Understanding, 2000

Honorary Officer in the Order of Australia, 2002

Order of the Companions of Oliver Tambo (Supreme Companion) of South Africa, 2004

Tribute of Appreciation by the Department of the State of the USA, 2005

The Gold Medal from the American-Scandinavian Foundation, 2006

Manfred Wörner Medal of the German Ministry of Defense, 2007

UNESCO Félix Houphöuet-Boigny Peace Prize, 2008

Nobel Peace Prize, 2008

 

Biography
CV
Career milestones
Press photos

MAJOR MILESTONES IN THE CAREER OF MARTTI AHTISAARI

Martti Ahtisaari, Special Representative of the Secretary General for Namibia, inspects a contingent of United Nations Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG) police monitors from India at their base east of Rundu in the Caprivi Strip in April 1989. Photo: UN/Milton Grant

1989–1990: Independence of Namibia

As the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Namibia from 1989-1990, Ahtisaari played a special role in Namibia’s independence from South Africa. Namibia was Ahtisaari’s first peace mediation assignment. He was involved with Namibia for a total of 14 years.

U.S. Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen (left), Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari (2nd from left), and Russian Minister of Defense Igor Sergeyev (2nd from right) meet in Helsinki, Finland, on June 17, 1999. The men are discussing Russia’s participation in the peacekeeping efforts in Kosovo. Photo: U.S. Department of Defense

1994–2000: President of Finland

Ahtisaari was the first President in Finland to be elected by direct popular vote. During his presidency, Finland joined the European Union and unemployment declined significantly from the high rate of the recession of the beginning of the 1990s.

In 1997, at Ahtisaari’s initiative, Finland hosted the summit meeting between Russian President Boris Yeltsin and US President Bill Clinton. The subject of the meeting was NATO’s enlargement to the Baltic states.

At the end of his presidential term, in 1999, Ahtisaari, former Russian Prime Minister and Special Envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin, and US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott negotiated a peace agreement that led to the withdrawal of Serbian troops from Kosovo.

Martti Ahtisaari and Cyril Ramaphosa in Helsinki in 2000.

2000: Inspection of IRA weapons caches

Ahtisaari, together with the South African statesman Cyril Ramaphosa, acted as weapons inspector concerning weapons caches of the Irish Republican Army.  The inspectors played a central role in enabling the Northern Ireland peace process – the Good Friday Agreement.

Martti Ahtisaari and CMI’s staff in 2014. Photo: Tomas Whitehouse.

2000: Foundation of the conflict resolution organisation CMI

Following his term as President, Ahtisaari founded the conflict resolution organisation the Crisis Management Initiative (CMI). Ahtisaari wanted his legacy to be continued by an organisation able to address the root causes of the conflicts as effectively as possible. Within 20 years, CMI has become one of the world’s leading conflict resolution organisations.

The Aceh peace accord was signed by the Minister of Justice of the Government of Indonesia Hamid Awalud and the leader of the delegation of the Free Aceh movement Malik Mahmud and was witnessed by President Ahtisaari. Photo: Jenni-Justiina Niemi.

2005: Aceh peace agreement

Ahtisaari and CMI acted as mediator in the peace talks between the Indonesian government and the Free Aceh Movement. The peace accord ended nearly three decades of violence, and the province of Aceh attained special autonomy. The peace process has laid the foundations for positive economic development. Poverty and unemployment in Aceh have fallen markedly.

Ahtisaari was involved in CMI’s Aceh peace process implementation follow-up project of  2010-2012. He has also played an important role as advisor and door opener in several other CMI projects.

2005–2008: Negotiations on the status of Kosovo

Ahtisaari was the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy in the negotiations on the status of Kosovo. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008.

Martti Ahtisaari was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo City Hall on December 10, 2008. Photo: Hannu Lindroos.

2008: Nobel Peace Prize

Ahtisaari was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in December 2008 “for his great efforts, on several continents and over more than three decades, to resolve international conflicts”.

President Ahtisaari visits a school in Helsinki in 2012. Photo: Saila Huusko.

2011: Ahtisaari Days

The purpose of the nationwide Ahtisaari Days is to make peace mediation a part of the everyday life of young people in Finland. During the Ahtisaari Days, Finnish secondary schools and high schools learn about mediation, practice negotiations, and learn the skills needed to resolve conflicts. At the request of President Ahtisaari, CMI is the main organiser of the events.

The Ahtisaari Days have been held since 2011 and President Ahtisaari himself participated in them on nine occasions. Ahtisaari emphasises the role of equal education and young people in achieving social stability. The two come together in the Ahtisaari Days, an initiative that is very dear to the President.

Biography
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Career milestones
Press photos

PRESS PHOTOS

Press photos of President Martti Ahtisaari (2015).

These photos are free for media to use in conjunction with news stories related to CMI or Martti Ahtisaari. If used, CMI and the name of the photographer must be credited. Captions and credits are to be embedded in the photos’ IPTC. Please inform CMI in advance where the photo is to be used. For any questions about the photos or inquiries for additional photos please contact comms(a)cmi.fi

Press Picture 1
Photo: Tuukka Koski
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Press Picture 5
Photo: Tomas Whitehouse
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Press Picture 6
Photo: Tomas Whitehouse
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President Ahtisaari at the Chatham House panel discussion with fellow Elders Lahkdar Brahimi and President Carter in July 2013. Photo: Jeff Moore for the Elders

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Signing of the Aceh peace agreement 2005 Photo: Jenni-Justiina Niemi

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President Ahtisaari joined the Joint Steering Committee of the AU Mediation Support Capacity project in Helsinki in July 2017. Photo: Riku Isohella

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Ahtisaari Days 2012, school visit in Helsinki . Photo: Saila Huusko

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Finnish companies, foundations and private individuals  gathered 631 877 euros for President Ahtisaari to be used in CMI’s conflict prevention and resolution work. The gift was revealed to Ahtisaari during a celebration to honour his 80th birthday in Helsinki on Thursday, June 15th, 2017.

Photo: Riku Isohella

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President Ahtisaari and his good friend, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, May 22nd, 2017 at Wisdom Wanted – the Elders and CMI seminar in Helsinki. Photo: Riku Isohella

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Ahtisaari Days 2012, school visit in Helsinki . Photo: Saila Huusko

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President Ahtisaari and current President of Finland Sauli Niinistö, May 22nd, 2017 at Wisdom Wanted – the Elders and CMI seminar in Helsinki. Photo: Riku Isohella

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Nobel Peace Prize 2008

Press Picture 7
Photo: Hannu Lindroos
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