The Elders

Press release

Martti Ahtisaari joins The Elders

Desmond Tutu announces that Nobel Laureate and former President of Finland Martti Ahtisaari will join The Elders.

Desmond Tutu today announced that Nobel Laureate and former President of Finland Martti Ahtisaari will join The Elders.

“We are delighted that Martti Ahtisaari will join us and we welcome the outstanding gifts that he will bring to our endeavours” – Desmond Tutu, chair of The Elders.

Martti Ahtisaari was President of the Republic of Finland from 1994 to 2000 and has had a distinguished career in conflict resolution, mediation and peace-building. In 2008 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his outstanding contribution to international peace efforts over three decades.

Responding to the Elders’ invitation to join them, he said: “I am honoured to have been invited – this is an offer one can’t refuse. As I have said in the past, peace is a question of will. All conflicts can be settled, and it is intolerable that violent conflicts defy resolution for decades, causing immeasurable human suffering. I believe that my fellow Elders share this view and I look forward to joining them so that collectively we can do more to curtail the interests of those who benefit from war – and encourage those who have power and influence to use it to build a more peaceful world” – Martti Ahtisaari.

Mr Ahtisaari has played an important role in conflict resolution in the Balkans, Northern Ireland, Indonesia and Africa. He led the UN’s operations in Namibia in 1989-90 during its transition to independence from apartheid South Africa. As part of Northern Ireland’s peace process in 2000 Mr Ahtisaari worked with South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa, conducting weapons inspections of the Irish Republican Army's arms dumps.

Among Mr Ahtisaari’s most notable successes was his facilitation of the peace process between the Government of Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement which resulted in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in 2005, ending thirty years of conflict.

He chaired an independent panel on the security and safety of UN personnel in Iraq in 2003 and has served as the UN Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa and Personal Envoy of the OSCE Chairman in Office for Central Asia. Between November 2005 and February 2008, Mr Ahtisaari was the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for the future status process for Kosovo.


About The Elders

The Elders is an independent group of eminent global leaders brought together by Nelson Mandela, who offer their collective influence and experience to help resolve conflicts, address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity.

The Elders are Martti Ahtisaari, Kofi Annan, Ela Bhatt, Lakhdar Brahimi, Gro Brundtland, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Jimmy Carter, Graça Machel, Mary Robinson and Desmond Tutu (Chair). Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi are honorary Elders.

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The Elders are independent global leaders, brought together by Nelson Mandela, who offer their collective influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity.

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