Former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari has stepped down as an active member of The Elders.
In a statement today the organisation, a group of elder statesmen and women first brought together by Nelson Mandela to work for world peace and human rights, said that 81-year old Ahtisaari will effectively retire and now take a back seat in the group.
“It has been an honour and a privilege to have worked with Martti Ahtisaari for so many years in the service of peace, human rights and dignity” said Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and Chair of The Elders.
“All of us at The Elders have benefited immeasurably from his quiet wisdom and his abiding commitment to democracy and egalitarianism. Martti will be sorely missed but we know we will continue to benefit from his wisdom and support as an Elder Emeritus” she added.
Ahtisaari joined The Elders in 2009, and traveled with the organisation to Africa, Asia, Russia and the Middle East. He was President of Finland from 1994 to 2000, and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work at the United Nations and in government, in the area of conflict resolution.
Among Ahtisaari’s most notable successes was his facilitation of the peace process between the Government of Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement in the mid-2000s, which helped end thirty years of conflict.
He founded the Conflict Management Initiative CMI in Finland, but stepped down from his active role at that organisation recently as well.