Mr. Ahtisaari was elected President of the Republic of Finland in February 1994. He held office from the 1st of March 1994 to the 29th of February 2000. In May 1999, while President, he represented the European Union in three-way talks with Russia and the United States to negotiate a resolution of the Kosovo crisis. Together with Russia’s envoy, Viktor Chernomyrdin, he presented to Yugoslavia President Slobodan Milosevic the terms of the G-8 countries and helped end hostilities over Kosovo in June 1999. Upon leaving office, Mr. Ahtisaari took on the Chairmanship of the International Crisis Group and the Co-Chairmanship of the New York-based EastWest Institute. He is a member of the joint advisors’ group for the Open Society Institute and the Soros Foundations, which operates in various countries. He also serves as Chairman of the Balkan Youth and Children Foundation and Global Commission 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 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".
In Finland, President Ahtisaari is active on the corporate governing boards of Elcoteq Networks and UPM-Kymmene. In addition, he is an honorary chairman of the International Committee of Vyborg Library, a member of the board of Naantali Music Festival, and a member of the steering committee of the Northern Research Forum.
Mr. Ahtisaari 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 Industrialization 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.
Mr. Ahtisaari served from 1984 to 1986 as Under-Secretary of State in charge of International Development Co-operation 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 Mr. Ahtisaari as Under-Secretary General for Administration and Management, effective on the 1st of January 1987. Mr. Ahtisaari 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 the 1st of July 1991, Mr. Ahtisaari 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, Mr Ahtisaari was Chairman of the Bosnia-Herzegovina Working Group of the International Conference on the former Yugoslavia. Beginning from the 1st of July 1993, for a period of four months, Mr. Ahtisaari served as Special Adviser to the International Conference on the former Yugoslavia and as the UN Secretary General's Special Representative for former Yugoslavia.
Mr Ahtisaari graduated from the University of Oulu, Finland in 1959 and received an Honorary Doctorate (Pedagogy) from his university 1989. He received an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Bentley College, Waltham, Massachusetts in 1990; of Political Science from Kasetsart University, Bangkok 1995; of Social Sciences from University of Turku in 1995; of Economics and Business Administration (Helsinki School of Economics and Business Administration) 1996; of the University of Palermo (Argentina) 1997; of Philosophy from University of Helsinki 1997;of the University of Moscow (MGIMO) 1997; of Pedagogy from Kyiv 1998; of Technology from University of Technology, Espoo 1998; of the University of Namibia 2000; of Laws from Columbia University of New York and of Social Sciences from University of Jyväskylä 2000.
Mr. Ahtisaari has been awarded the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Award (2000), the Hessen Peace Prize (2000), the J. William Fulbright Award for International Understanding (2000) and the Highest Acknowledgement of the Together for Peace Foundation (2000). A citizen of Finland, Mr. Ahtisaari was born on 23 June 1937. He is married and has a son.