The Mediator

A Biography of Martti Ahtisaari

September 2015 9781849043182 288pp
EU Customers


Martti Ahtisaari is the world’s most renowned and successful mediator in international conflicts. In 2008 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his lead role in bringing independence to Namibia, Serbia’s withdrawal from Kosovo, the decommissioning of weapons in Northern Ireland and autonomy for Aceh in Indonesia. Ahtisaari’s range of international contacts and global experience are remarkable and his is the name which is still most often mentioned when the world looks for an individual to try to broker a peace deal.

Ahtisaari also served for six years as President of Finland, the first holder of that office to be directly elected. Upon leaving office, he founded Crisis Management Initiative, an international NGO specialising in conflict resolution and development issues. The Mediator is an authorised biography, based on extensive interviews with Ahtisaari himself as well as his family, friends and colleagues.


‘Martti Ahtisaari is the only person I know who has successfully built peace on three different continents.’ — Kofi A. Annan, Former UN Secretary-General, Nobel Peace Laureate and Chair of The Elders

‘Martti Ahtisaari has done important work to promote democracy, tolerance and open society in Europe and globally. His track record is remarkable and I am honored to support his efforts.’ — George Soros, Chairman Soros Fund Management

‘Martti Ahtisaari’s biography is an exciting account of an extraordinary life. It is a story of a person of modest background, a resolute visionary who by virtue of being born in a Nordic country was given an opportunity to make the most out of his skills. Martti Ahtisaari has become one of the leading peace mediators of our time, and an Ambassador of egalitarian thinking. He is a tireless advocate for giving everyone, girls and boys, an equal opportunity in life.’ — Gro Harlem Brundtland, First woman Prime Minister of Norway

‘Martti Ahtisaari personified Socrates’s ideal of a citizen of the world.  Not only did he lead his own brave, admirable, and highly globalized nation — he helped prove that the European Union could engage in effective diplomacy. His work as a peacemakers continues even as he gives us, in The Mediator, a compelling, insightful autobiography of one of the great statesmen of our time.’ — Strobe Talbott, President of the Brookings Institution

‘There isn’t much guidance for choosing peacemakers and sending them forth. … The Mediator allows us to list some of the qualities required. Let us begin with humility: a virtue Ahtisaari possesses amply, in proportion to his personal acuity. At no stage does it appear that Ahtisaari has made a decision out of desire for personal grandeur. … Another necessary quality is patience. Ending wars is ill-suited for the hasty. … A mediator also needs to have a thick skin. Ahtisaari exemplifies the maxim that negotiations should not be conducted through the media, and that the mediator should be ready to take any blame cast on him, fairly or unfairly. … Katri Merikallio and Tapani Ruokanen’s book contributes to the long-running debate on what the academy can contribute to the craft of conflict resolution. … Peacemaking is its own school, and Martti Ahtisaari is a master.’ — Times Literary Supplement


Katri Merikallio is Senior Editor of the leading Finnish periodical, Suomen Kuvalehti.

Tapani Ruokanen is Senior Editor of the leading Finnish periodical, Suomen Kuvalehti.

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