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Martti Ahtisaari steps down from The Elders

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Martti Ahtisaari, Nobel peace laureate and former President of Finland, has stepped down as an active member of The Elders.

Martti Ahtisaari, Nobel peace laureate and former President of Finland, has stepped down as an active member of The Elders, the organisation said today.

He will join Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former US President Jimmy Carter, former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Indian labour and rights activist Ela Bhatt as an Elder Emeritus.

Martti Ahtisaari, 81, joined The Elders in September 2009 and played a leading role in the organisation’s work on peacebuilding, human rights, sustainable development and strengthening multilateral institutions.

He was a key member of Elders’ delegations to sensitive geopolitical states and regions, from South Sudan and North Korea to Myanmar, Russia and most recently Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Ahtisaari enjoyed a distinguished career serving his country and the United Nations. 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 Ahtisaari worked with Cyril Ramaphosa, now the President of South Africa, conducting weapons inspections of the Irish Republican Army's arms dumps.

Among Ahtisaari’s most notable successes was his facilitation of the peace process between the Government of Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement in the mid-2000s, which helped end thirty years of conflict.

He also founded and until recently chaired Crisis Management Initiative (CMI), one of the world’s leading conflict resolution organisations.

He served as President of Finland from 1994-2000, and in 2008 was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Mary Robinson, Chair of The Elders, said:

“It has been an honour and privilege to have worked with Martti Ahtisaari for so many years in the service of peace, human rights and dignity. All of us at The Elders have benefited immeasurably from his quiet wisdom and his abiding commitment to democracy and egalitarianism. Martti will be sorely missed but we know we will continue to benefit from his wisdom and support as an Elder Emeritus.”


For media inquiries, please contact William French, Head of Communications at The Elders (+44 7795 693 903) or email: [email protected]

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