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Giants of peacemaking in Geneva - Permanent Mission of Finland, Geneva : Current Affairs


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Martti Ahtisaari and José Ramos-Horta, two giants of peacemaking in Geneva on 13 November 2013

Mr Martti Ahtisaari, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and former President of Finland and Mr José Ramos-Horta, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the UN for Guinea-Bissau and former President of Timor-Leste, delivered a lecture on complexities of peace making. The lecture was a part of a series of open lectures at the Palais des Nations in Geneva organized jointly by the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) to address global issues.

In his introduction President Ahtisaari emphasized some of the key principles without which sustainable peace process cannot be achieved nor created. He considered the lack of participation as the most dangerous fuse for conflict. If we consider conflict resolution and mediation only as a distribution of political and economic powers we will never succeed. According to President Ahtisaari sustainable peace is not measured only by absence of violence and violent structures, but by opportunities and functions available in a society. It is a task of any peace mediator to ensure that peace advances access to these opportunities and thus strengthens trust in a society. Peacemaking is not feasible without trust. President Ahtisaari made also a reference to a report on the experiences in the Nordic countries on how to create a fair society (the report is available online here).

President Ramos-Horta agreed with Ahtisaari that fair policies and trust are key elements of sustainable peace. He advised the winners of conflicts or elections to walk half way to meet those defeated. Winner takes all attitude leads to exclusion of others, which again will lead to new conflicts. Diversity is not a weakness, but a richness.

The presentations were followed by lively interaction with the audience. The Presidents shared their personal experiences of peacemaking in conflicts such as Aceh, Kosovo, East-Timor, Namibia and Guinea-Bissau. On Syria the Presidents expressed their hope that it will be possible to build on the agreement on chemical weapons and that the parties to the conflict would start to discuss with each other soon in Geneva.  

Watch the lecture as a webcast at the UN TV web site.

The venerable panel in discussionIn discussion from the left President Ahtisaari, Darius Rochebin from the Swiss French television TSR, and President Ramos-Horta (photo: Jyri Järviaho)
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Updated 11/14/2013

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