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News, 11/5/2012

New perspectives on mediation sought on the Ahtisaari Day

Press release 257/2012
5 November 2012

The national Ahtisaari Day will be celebrated on Thursday 8 November. This year, the main venue of the Ahtisaari Day will be Helsinki, and the programme will be divided into events intended for schools, the general public and experts.

All schools in Finland have been invited to take part in the Ahtisaari Day and to consider the importance of mediation.

“The mediator pupils show an important example in their own communities. Mediation will develop into an everyday skill learned at a young age,” says Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja.

President Ahtisaari and Ministers Tuomioja and Hautala meet pupils

In the morning, President Martti Ahtisaari will visit two schools in Helsinki to award one pupil who has promoted mediation in school work in each. This year the places he will visit are the Kallahti primary school and Nordsjö lågstadieskola (Swedish-language primary school in Vuosaari). In the afternoon, President Ahtisaari will participate in a party for mediator pupils, organised by Helsinki Education Department. This year, nine schools organised election of the best mediator of their school and the names of those receiving the award will be published on the Ahtisaari Day.

On the Ahtisaari Day, Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja and Minister for International Development Heidi Hautala will visit Helsinki Media Arts Upper Secondary School. The programme will include a discussion session between the ministers and upper secondary school students and playing the Ahtisaari Day conflict resolution role play together with the students. In the game, the participants try to solve a conflict in an imaginary state called Kurkum.

In addition to the events in Helsinki, the Ahtisaari Day will also be celebrated in schools in Oulu and Kuopio. In addition, the Joensuu-based ENO virtual school will export the Ahtisaari Day to other countries as well by organising, for example, a tree planting campaign in Indonesia.

Civil peace discussed at the University of Helsinki

In the afternoon, the Ahtisaari Day will continue with a public event held at the University of Helsinki. The theme of the event is civil peace in Finland and elsewhere in the world, and the panellists discussing the theme will include President Martti Ahtisaari, international justice expert Jarna Petman from the University of Helsinki, and journalist, author and documentarist Elina Hirvonen.

“It is important that, on the Ahtisaari Day, we discuss the preconditions of peace in Finland and elsewhere in the world. Often peace cannot be achieved without the key elements of life, such as safe immediate surroundings, clean water and schooling opportunities for girls, being fulfilled. In our own society, such key elements are fulfilled,” says Minister for International Development Heidi Hautala.

The registration for the debate at the university is open for everyone and the event can also be followed as live webcast over the Internet.

Democracy activist George Soros speaks in an international seminar of experts

The Ahtisaari Day will still continue on Friday 9 November with an international seminar of experts held at the Helsinki City Hall. The panellists taking part in the discussion will be President Ahtisaari, founder of the Open Society Institute George Soros, BBC correspondent Lyse Doucet, and General Robert Mood, who was responsible for the UN Supervision Mission in Syria. Commentary addresses will be given by Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, CEO Anne Berner and Olympic medallist Silja Lehtinen. The topic of discussion is the impact of the unstable economic situation on mediation activities. The seminar organised by CMI and the Finnish Institute of International Affairs is part of the Ahtisaari Day.

The purpose of the national Ahtisaari Day, now celebrated for the second time, is to increase information about prevention and resolution of disputes both internationally and at an everyday level. The day lays special emphasis on mediation and conciliation in everyday life and the Finnish mediation competence.

The Ahtisaari Day is celebrated in November on an annual basis around Martti's name day (10 November). The main organisers of the Ahtisaari Day include the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Education and Culture, and the Finnish National Board of Education.

Additional information: www.ahtisaaripaiva.fiKeijo Norvanto, Director of Communications, tel. +358 40 520 3925, Ministry for Foreign Affairs (general coordination, school visits by ministers)
Elina Lehtinen, Head, Communications & Fundraising, tel. +358 40 834 0465, CMI (enquiries concerning the high-level expert event, President Ahtisaari’s visits to schools)
Ira Leväaho, Communications Manager, tel. +358 50 5058 152, University of Helsinki, Community Relations (enquiries concerning the University of Helsinki event) 

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Updated 11/5/2012

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