Former president of Finland, Martti Ahtisaari, won the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize for his work as an international mediator in conflict resolution efforts around the globe. The Norwegian Nobel Committee particularly recognized Ahtisaari’s work in Namibia, Indonesia, Kosovo, and Iraq, praising his dedication to “peace and reconciliation” in those areas.
Ahtisaari was seen as a conservative choice by some, especially following last year’s controversial award of the prize to Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. International mediators rarely win the Nobel Peace Prize, which is often awarded to inspirational figures or even to a conflict’s principal actors. Ahtisaari joins only six other laureates chosen for their role in conflict mediation, including Theodore Roosevelt (1906), for mediating peace between Russia and Japan, and Jimmy Carter (2002), for brokering the Camp David Accords, among other achievements. In comparison with these laureates, Ahtisaari’s choice is unusual because it comes in recognition of a decades-long career in international mediation, as opposed to any particular high-profile success, a selection regarded by some as reaffirming “the original vision of Alfred Nobel.”
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