The Elders are deeply saddened at the passing of their dear friend and colleague Martti Ahtisaari after a long illness borne with great dignity and courage.
Martti Ahtisaari joined The Elders in 2009 and was a hugely admired and respected member of the group, before becoming an Elder Emeritus in 2018. He contributed significantly to the organisation’s work on conflict prevention and resolution, joining delegations to South Sudan, Myanmar, North Korea, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
He was always guided by his deeply-held belief in egalitarianism and fairness, and his conviction that no conflict was too difficult to be solved provided there was sufficient political will on both sides.
Martti Ahtisaari won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2008 for his tireless work over three decades in helping resolve conflicts on several continents, including in Namibia, Aceh, Kosovo and Northern Ireland. After stepping down as President of Finland in 2000, he founded CMI – Martti Ahtisaari Peace Foundation, a leading NGO in the field of peace-building.
Mary Robinson, Chair of The Elders, said:
“The Elders are devastated to learn of the death of Martti Ahtisaari. He was a deeply admired friend and colleague who inspired us all with his dedicated commitment to resolving conflict and promoting a fairer world. His wisdom and determination should inspire us to redouble our efforts to secure peace in these deeply troubling times.”
All of the Elders and their Advisory Council and staff team members send their heartfelt condolences to Martti’s family: his wife Eeva, and their son Marko. They have lost a devoted husband and father.
The world has lost an inspiring figure – but one whose achievements will never be forgotten, and whose commitment to peace and equality will endure to inspire future generations.
About The Elders
The Elders are independent global leaders working for peace, justice, human rights and a sustainable planet. The group was founded by Nelson Mandela in 2007.
The Elders are Ban Ki-moon (Deputy Chair), Gro Harlem Brundtland, Helen Clark, Elbegdorj Tsakhia, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, Hina Jilani, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Ricardo Lagos, Graça Machel (Deputy Chair), Juan Manuel Santos, Mary Robinson (Chair) and Ernesto Zedillo.
Desmond Tutu (1931-2021) and Kofi Annan (1938-2018) were founding members of The Elders and served as Chairs from 2007 to 2013 and 2013 to 2018 respectively. Ela Bhatt (1933 – 2022) and Martti Ahtisaari (1937 – 2023) were members of The Elders from 2007 to 2016 and 2009 to 2018 respectively.