Settler of conflicts and peace mediator
The Nobel Peace Prize for 2008 was awarded to Martti Ahtisaari, former President of Finland, for his great efforts, on several continents and over more than three decades, to resolve international conflicts. Ahtisaari was a major contributor when Namibia achieved independence in 1989-90, arbitrated in Kosovo in 1999 and 2005-07, and helped to bring the long-lasting conflict in the Aceh province in Indonesia to an end in 2005.
Ahtisaari was born in Viborg in 1937. In the Winter War in 1939-40, the town was annexed by the Soviet Union and its inhabitants were driven out. Those childhood experiences motivated him in his adult commitment to peace.
In 1977, following many years in the foreign service, Ahtisaari was appointed UN Commissioner for Namibia. The assignment aroused his interest in the resolution of conficts and peace mediation. He was President of Finland from 1994 to 2000. After his presidential term, he again stepped up his work for peace, among other things by establishing Crisis Management Initiative (CMI), which played an active part in bringing about the Aceh peace accord in 2005.