Martti Ahtisaari served as president of the Republic of Finland from Mar. 1, 1994 to Feb. 29, 2000. Upon leaving office, Mr. Ahtisaari took on the co-chairmanship of the New York-based EastWest Institute and the chairmanship of the Brussels-based International Crisis Group. He is a member of the joint advisers’ 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 War-Torn Societies Project. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA). Other post-presidential activities have included inspection of the IRA’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”.
He 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 Co-operation between 1972 and 1973. He was a member of the Government Advisory Committee on Trade and Industrialisation 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 UN 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.
From 1984 to 1986 he served 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 Ahtisaari as Under-Secretary General for Administration and Management, effective Jan. 1, 1987. He retained his functions as Special Representative of the Secretary General for Namibia and led the UN operation (UNTAG) in Namibia (1989-1990). Mr. Ahtisaari’s position as Under-Secretary General ended on the 30th of June 1991.
As of Jul. 1, 1991, he served as Secretary of State in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland in Helsinki. From the beginning of September 1992 to the 15th of April 1993, he was Chairman of the Bosnia-Herzegovina Working Group of the International Conference on the former Yugoslavia. Beginning Jul. 1, 1993, for a period of four months, he served as Special Adviser to the International Conference on the former Yugoslavia and to the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative for former Yugoslavia.
A citizen of Finland, Mr. Ahtisaari was born on Jun. 23, 1937. He is married and has a son.