Chairman of Interpeace receives UNESCO Peace Prize
May 16, 2008
The UNESCO Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize was recently attributed to Martti Ahtisaari, Chairman of the Interpeace Governing Council. Henry Kissinger, president of the international jury that awards the Prize and former US Secretary of State and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, declared that the laureate had been chosen “for his lifetime contribution to world peace.”
In his distinguished career, Martti Ahtisaari has served his country as President of Finland from 1994 to 2000 and as diplomat for three decades. He has also been entrusted with numerous high offices in the United Nations. Ahtisaari’s many achievements for world peace include the supervision of Namibia’s move toward independence from South Africa as Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Namibia. After leaving office in February 2000, President Ahtisaari was appointed by the British Government to oversee the inspections of IRA weapons decommissioning in Northern Ireland. In 2005 he successfully facilitated the peace process between the Government of Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement, through the Crisis Management Initiative, the non-governmental organization he founded. In November 2005, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed Ahtisaari as Special Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations for the future status process for Kosovo.
He has been Chairman of the Interpeace Governing Council since 2000, during which time the organization was selected as an innovative model for conflict resolution by former US President Bill Clinton at the 2006 and 2007 Clinton Global Initiatives. Interpeace is very pleased with the selection of Martti Ahtisaari for the Houphouët-Boigny Prize and this as an extraordinary encouragement to sustain and evolve our efforts to help build lasting peace.
Created in 1989 by the UNESCO’s General Conference, the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize was named after the first president of the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire, Félix Houphouët-Boigny. In memory of his philosophy and action, it intends to honor “living individuals, and active public or private bodies or institutions that have made a significant contribution to promoting, seeking, safeguarding or maintaining peace”.
Previous laureates include Nelson Mandela and Frederik W. De Klerk; Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Pérès and Yasser Arafat; King Juan Carlos of Spain and former US President Jimmy Carter; and Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade.