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Former Finnish President Awarded Nobel Peace Prize

Ban delighted Nobel Peace Prize awarded to “long-standing” ally for peace

10 October 2008 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today hailed the award of the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize to former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari, the fourth time in eight years an official of the United Nations or agency associated with the world body has received the honour.

In a statement released by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban paid tribute to Mr. Ahtisaari’s “exceptional career in the service of the global community” calling him “a long-standing colleague and ally in the cause for peace, development and human rights.”

Mr. Ban noted Mr. Ahtisaari’s extensive diplomatic career, emphasizing missions ranging from the former Yugoslavia to the Horn of Africa and including his successful mediation to help achieve a peaceful settlement in Aceh between the Government of Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement in 2005.

“Whether working inside or outside the United Nations, as President of Finland or on the international stage, Mr. Ahtisaari has never ceased to champion the principles and ideals of the Organization,” the statement added.

The Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Koïchiro Matsuura, also offered his congratulations to the Nobel laureate, saying “it is heart-warming to see Martti Ahtisaari’s untiring efforts over so many years to foster dialogue and broker peace in the midst of crises have been recognized.”

Earlier this month, while receiving UNESCO’s peace award, the Prix Félix Houphouët-Boigny, Mr. Ahtisaari voiced his concern about the large number of conflicts that the international community has not solved.

“We should never accept that these conflicts remain frozen forever. All conflicts in the world can be solved,” he stressed. UNESCO, in a press release issued today, highlighted the negotiations Mr. Ahtisaari organized in 2007 between Iraqi Sunni and Shi’a groups to help re-establish dialogue between the two communities, as well as his 2000 supervision of the disarmament process of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in Northern Ireland at the request of the British Government.

Mr. Ahtisaari now joins a growing list of UN bodies and associated individuals recognized by the Nobel Prize committee for their efforts, including the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed ElBaradei, former Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

ENDS

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