Ahtisaari served as president of Finland from 1994 to 2000. Prior to that, he was a central figure in the negotiation process that resulted in Namibian independence from South Africa in the late 1980s. In 2008, he received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work as a negotiator and mediator in a number of global crises.
After his presidency, Ahtisaari founded the Crisis Management Initiative, a Finnish independent non-profit organization, works to resolve conflict and to build sustainable peace. In 2005, along with the CMI, he facilitated a peace agreement between the Indonesian government and separatists in Aceh Province after decades of fighting. Later that same year, he served as a special envoy of the secretary general of the United Nations in Kosovo, leading the political process to determine Kosovo’s future status.
Ahtisaari is the 9th recipient of the Great Negotiator Award. Previous winners include Senator George Mitchell, U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky, United Nations Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi, Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat ’67, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, former United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata ’94, Bruce Wasserstein ’70, Chairman and CEO of Lazard, and the artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude.
Co-sponsored by the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School and The Future of Diplomacy Project at the Harvard Kennedy School, this year’s Great Negotiator award ceremony will take place at Harvard Business School’s Spangler Auditorium from 1:30- 5 p.m. The event, which is free and open to the public, will include a panel discussion with Ahtisaari and faculty from Harvard and Tufts.
The Great Negotiator award was created 10 years ago by the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School to recognize individuals whose lifetime achievements in the field of negotiation and dispute resolution have had a significant and lasting impact. The Program on Negotiation, an interdisciplinary center focused on negotiation and conflict resolution, draws from numerous fields of study, including law, business, government, psychology, economics, public policy, anthropology and education. The program works to connect rigorous scholarship with applied practice.