UCL honorary graduate Martti Ahtisaari wins Nobel Peace Prize
12 October 2008
Peace negotiator Martti Ahtisaari, a recent UCL honorary graduate, has won this year's Nobel Peace Prize. The ex-president of Finland and UN Special Envoy (left in picture) was recognised for more than three decades of service to global peace, including his mediator role in Kosovo, his hand in working to end the conflict in Indonesia's Aceh province and his part in helping secure Namibia's independence.
Earlier this month, Ahtissaari headed a distinguished panel of speakers at a round table event organised by the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies to debate the future of Kosovo.
He was also awarded an honorary degree from UCL, the first of this kind exercised independently of the University of London. Martti Ahtisaari was nominated for the degree by the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (UCL SSEES).
The Nobel Committee said: "He has figured prominently in endeavours to resolve several serious and long-lasting conflicts," mentioning his roles in Namibia, Aceh, Kosovo and Iraq.
"He has also made constructive contributions to the resolution of conflicts in Northern Ireland, in Central Asia and on the Horn of Africa."
The committee's Ole Danbolt Mjoes added: "These efforts have contributed to a more peaceful world and to 'fraternity between nations' in Alfred Nobel's spirit."
Ahtisaari wins a gold medal, diploma and 10m Swedish kronor ($1.4m), which he said should help fund the organisations he has chaired.
The winners were chosen by a secret five-member Norwegian awards committee from 197 nominations this year.
Ahtisaari, who served as Finnish president from 1994-2000, told Norwegian broadcaster NRK that he considered Namibia his biggest achievement. He is an honorary citizen of the country.
Ahtisaari will receive the prize in Oslo on 10 December, the anniversary of the death in 1896 of the awards' founder, Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel.
Image: 2008 Nobel Peace Prize winner Martti Ahtisaari, right, received his honorary degree from UCL President and Provost Prof Malcolm Grant earlier this year