The Ahtisaari Day will be celebrated again 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. The programme will consist of, for example, awarding of pupil conciliators elected by schools in Helsinki, a public event organised by the University of Helsinki, and a high-level seminar of experts.
The purpose of the 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. Education and upbringing play a major role in increasing such information.
“Finland possesses significant competencies in mediation activity. We focus on certain themes and geographical areas on the basis of our own competence and experience,” says Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja.
Schools are at the very heart of the Ahtisaari Day. The Ministry of Education and Culture, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Finnish National Board of Education have invited all schools to celebrate the Ahtisaari Day. The aim is to increase information about dispute conciliation and enhance the relevant skills both in one’s everyday life and at an international level.
Schools can come up with their own ideas on how to participate in the day or they can seek tips from the material package put together for schools, including exercises and assignments related to the themes of conciliation, peace, and conflict resolution produced by various organisations. The material package for schools is available on the Ahtisaari Day Website. On the Ahtisaari Day, President Ahtisaari will visit two schools in Helsinki and participate in an event held by the City of Helsinki Education Department, organised in honour of conciliators the schoolchildren have elected from among themselves. Foreign Minister Tuomioja and Minister for International Development Heidi Hautala will also visit schools before noon on Thursday 8 November.
The value of mediation as part of comprehensive crisis management and development policy aimed at sustainable development has been internationally recognised. “By taking an active role in mediation, we can contribute to enhancement of stability in the world and the living conditions of people,” says Minister for International Development Hautala.
The public event to be held at the University of Helsinki on Thursday 8 November will provide an opportunity to discuss with President Ahtisaari. The theme of the event is civil peace in Finland and elsewhere in the world. The event will be webcasted live over the Internet. More detailed programme on the public events and instructions for registration will be published in October.
As part of the Ahtisaari Day, CMI and the Finnish Institute of International Affairs will organise a high-level seminar of experts on Friday 9 November that will bring together international experts of mediation and conflict resolution. One of the main speakers of the seminar will be George Soros, democracy activist and founder of the Open Society Institute. In addition to mediation professionals, the seminar will be attended by actors from various sectors and, accordingly, the seminar highlights a multi-sector approach to mediation.
“Mediation does not take place at a state-leader level alone. The execution of peace solutions requires contribution of entire societies and cooperation and partnership between various actors,” President Ahtisaari underscores. The media, companies and cultural life may also play an important role in mediation. Mediation is a process which requires as broad-based participation as possible.
The seminar of experts will be held at the Helsinki City Hall.
Keijo Norvanto, Director of Communications, tel. +358 40 520 3925, Ministry for Foreign Affairs (general coordination)
Kristina Kaihari, Counsellor of Education, tel. +358 40 348 7222, Finnish National Board of Education (enquiries concerning education)
Elina Lehtinen, Head, Communications & Fundraising, tel. +358 40 834 0465, CMI (enquiries concerning the high-level expert event)
Ira Leväaho, Communications Manager, tel. +358 50 5058 152, University of Helsinki, Community Relations (enquiries concerning the University of Helsinki event)