Press Releases

    16 November 2005

    Biographical Note

    Secretary-General Appoints Former President Martti Ahtisaari of Finland as Special Envoy for Future Status Process for Kosovo

    NEW YORK, 15 November (UN Headquarters) -- United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has appointed former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari as his Special Envoy for the Future Status Process for Kosovo.  The appointment was approved by the Security Council on 10 November 2005 and is effective as of that date.

    In his capacity as Special Envoy, Mr. Ahtisaari will lead the political process to determine the future status of Kosovo in the context of resolution 1244 (1999) and the relevant presidential statements of the Security Council.

    Mr. Ahtisaari's biographical details follow:

    Mr. Ahtisaari was elected President of the Republic of Finland in February 1994.  He held office from the 1 March 1994 to the 29 February 2000.

    Upon leaving office, Mr. Ahtisaari founded the Crisis Management Initiative, where he is Chairman of the Board. He also took on the Co-Chairmanship of the New York-based EastWest Institute (until September 2005).  He is a member of the joint advisors' group for the Open Society Institute and the Soros Foundations, which operates in various countries.  He also serves as Chairman of the Balkan Children and Youth Foundation and Global Action Council of the International Youth Foundation, as well as of the international board of the WSP International.  Until 2003 he was also a member of the Board of Directors of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) and until 2004 the Chairman of the Brussels-based International Crisis Group.

    Other post-presidential activities have included facilitating the peace process between the Government of Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement; chairing an independent panel on the security and safety of United Nations personnel in Iraq; appointments as United Nations Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa and Personal Envoy of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Chairman-in-Office for Central Asia; inspection of the Irish Republican Army's arms dumps with fellow inspector Cyril Ramaphosa; and the drafting of a report on the human rights and political situation in Austria as a member of a group of "three wise men".

    In Finland, President Ahtisaari is active on the corporate governing boards of Elcoteq SE and UPM-Kymmene.

    In addition President Ahtisaari is the Chairman of the supervisory board of the Finnish National Opera; member of the Board of Trustees of the Averett University; Honorary Chairman of the Pro Baltica Forum; Honorary Chairman of the Advisory Council of the Eurasia Foundation; Honorary Chairman of the International Committee of Vyborg Library; a member of the board of trustees of Inter Press Service International Association; a member of the board of Naantali Music Festival; an Honorary Trustee of the American-Scandinavian Foundation; and a member of the steering committee of the Northern Research Forum.  He is also Patron of the Koeppler Appeal and Member of the Board of EUSTORY.

    Mr. Ahtisaari joined the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland in 1965, holding various posts in the Ministry's Bureau for Technical Cooperation from 1965 to 1972, and serving as Assistant Director from 1971 to 1972.  He served as Deputy Director in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, in the Department for International Development Cooperation between 1972 and 1973.  He was a member of the Government Advisory Committee on Trade and Industrialization Affairs of Developing Countries from 1971 to 1973.

    Prior to joining the United Nations, Mr. Ahtisaari served as Ambassador of Finland to the United Republic of Tanzania (1973-1976) and was also accredited to Zambia, Somalia and Mozambique (1975-1976).  He served as a member of the Senate of the United Nations Institute for Namibia between 1975 and 1976.  Mr. Ahtisaari served as United Nations Commissioner for Namibia from 1977 to 1981.  He was appointed Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Namibia in July 1978.

    Mr. Ahtisaari served from 1984 to 1986 as Under-Secretary of State in charge of International Development Cooperation in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, as well as Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Namibia.  He was Governor for Finland in the African Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and in the Inter-American Development Bank, as well as in the International Fund for Agricultural Development.  Mr. Ahtisaari was, during that period, Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Finnish Industrialization Fund for developing countries.

    Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar appointed Mr. Ahtisaari as Under-Secretary-General for Administration and Management, effective on the 1 January 1987.  Mr. Ahtisaari retained his functions as Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Namibia and led the United Nations operation (UNTAG) in Namibia (1989-1990).  Mr. Ahtisaari's position as Under-Secretary-General ended on 30 June 1991.  As of 1 July 1991, Mr. Ahtisaari served as State Secretary in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland in Helsinki.

    From the beginning of September 1992 to 15 April 1993, Mr Ahtisaari was Chairman of the Bosnia-Herzegovina Working Group of the International Conference on the former Yugoslavia.  Beginning from 1 July 1993, for a period of four months, Mr. Ahtisaari served as Special Adviser to the International Conference on the former Yugoslavia and to the United Nations Secretary-General's Special Representative for former Yugoslavia.

    Mr Ahtisaari graduated from the University of Oulu, Finland, in 1959 and received an honorary doctorate (pedagogy) from his university in 1989.  He has received many honorary degrees, most recently in 2005, when Mr. Ahtisaari received the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters from the American University in Bulgaria.

    Mr. Ahtisaari has been awarded the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Award (2000), the Hessen Peace Prize (2000), the J. William Fulbright Award for International Understanding (2000), the Highest Acknowledgement of the Together for Peace Foundation (2000), the European Peacebuilder Award from the European Centre for Common Ground (2003) and the Euro-Atlantic Bridge Prize from the European Foundation for Culture (2003).  In 2005, Mr. Ahtisaari received the Honorary Award on the eighty-fifth anniversary of the Alfred Kordelin Foundation.

    President Ahtisaari has received numerous decorations, the latest of these being the appointment in 2002 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.

    A citizen of Finland, Mr. Ahtisaari was born on 23 June 1937.  He is married and has a son.

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