Martti Ahtisaari is the Humanitas Visiting Professor in Statecraft and Diplomacy 2015–16.
Mr Ahtisaari began his career in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, which he joined in 1965. In 1973 he was appointed Ambassador of Finland to the United Republic of Tanzania, and was also accredited to Zambia, Somalia and Mozambique. He served as a member of the Senate of the UN Institute for Namibia in 1975–6, acted as the United Nations Commissioner for Namibia between 1977 and 1981, and was the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Namibia from 1978 to 1988. From 1984 to 1986 Mr Ahtisaari was Under-Secretary of State in charge of International Development Co-operation in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. In 1987 Mr Ahtisaari was appointed Under-Secretary General in the UN for Administration and Management, in which role he led the United Nations Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG) in Namibia (1989–90). Returning to Finland, he served as State Secretary in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland between 1991 and 1993, during which time he also acted as Chairman of the Bosnia-Herzegovina Working Group of the International Conference on the former Yugoslavia (1992–93), as well as Special Advisor to the International Conference on the former Yugoslavia and to the Secretary General’s Special Representative for the former Yugoslavia (1993).
Martti Ahtisaari was elected President of the Republic of Finland in February 1994, holding office from the 1st of March 1994 to the 29th of February 2000. Upon leaving office, Mr Ahtisaari founded the NGO Crisis Management Initiative, where he is the Chairman of the Board. Between 2000 and 2008 Mr Ahtisaari fulfilled various roles in peace mediation and conflict resolution: in 2000 he was an inspector of the IRA’s arms dumps; in 2003 he was Chair of an independent panel on the security and safety of UN personnel in Iraq; from 2003 to 2004 he was Personal Envoy of the OSCE CiO for Central Asia, and between 2003 and 2005 he acted as UN Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa. In 2005 Martti Ahtisaari was facilitator in the peace process between the Government of Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement; the process led to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding that ended the three-decade-long conflict in Aceh. Between 2005 and 2008 he acted as the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations for the future status process for Kosovo.
In 2008 Martti Ahtisaari was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Mr Ahtisaari’s current roles include:
Chairman of the Board, Crisis Management Initiative
Co-Chair in European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
Chairman of the Independent Commission on Turkey examining the challenges and opportunities presented by Turkey’s possible membership of the European Union
Director-At-Large of the ImagineNations Group and member of the Board of Trustees of Silatech
Member of the Elders
Member of the Prize Committee of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation
Member of the Board, East-West Institute
Member of the International Senior Advisory Board of West Asia North Africa (WANA) Regional forum
Chairman of the supervisory board of the Finnish National Opera
Mr Ahtisaari’s awards and prizes include:
Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Award in 2000
The Hessen Peace Prize in 2000
The J. William Fulbright Award for International Understanding in 2000
Tribute of Appreciation by the Department of the State of the USA in 2005
The Gold Medal from the American-Scandinavian Foundation in 2006
Manfred Wörner Medal of the German Ministry of Defense in 2007
UNESCO Félix Houphöuet-Boigny Peace Prize, 2008
Nobel Peace Prize, 2008
In 2002 he was appointed as an Honorary Officer in the Order of Australia. In 2004 he was awarded with the Order of the Companions of Oliver Tambo (Supreme Companion) by South Africa.
He is an Honorary Citizen of Namibia.