Former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, known for his ability to resolve global conflicts peacefully, is the winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. The choice is notable because it returns Nobel to the tradition of giving the prize to people working directly for peace issues, rather than to those focused on related matters. In recent years, the prize went to former US Vice-President Al Gore and a UN panel for their work on climate change, to Bangladesh’s Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank for giving microcredit loans to the poor, to the International Atomic Energy Agency for preventing military use of nuclear power, and to Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai.
Ahtisaari played a “significant part” in bringing independence to Namibia in 1989-90, was central to resolving the “complicated” situation in Indonesia’s Aceh province in 2005, and helped solve the conflict in Kosovo in 1999 and again in 2005 to 2007, according to the Nobel committee statement.
… Ahtisaari founded Crisis Management Initiative, a non-profit peace brokering organization, in 2000 after a six-year term as president of Finland. His work included chairing an independent panel on the security and safety of UN personnel in Iraq.
“Throughout his entire adult life, Ahtisaari has worked endlessly to solve several long-lasting conflicts,” said Ole Danbolt Mjoes, chairman of the five-member Norwegian Nobel Committee. “He’s an outstanding international mediator. His efforts and achievements have demonstrated the important role of mediation in solving international conflicts.”
Not everyone welcomed today’s award. Several politicians from Serbia, which opposed Kosovo’s declaration of independence from the country in February, criticized the move.
[The 71-year-old] Ahtisaari, who is married with a son, is active in several non-governmental and non-profit organizations. In Finland, he serves on the corporate governing board of Elcoteq SE, Europe’s biggest contract manufacturer of electronics.
… Ahtisaari has been awarded honorary doctorates by 19 universities around the world and received UNESCO’s peace prize earlier this month.
via Bloomberg: Ahtisaari first Finn to win Nobel Preace Prize