Better World · FoCus FInlAnd 2012 the agreement is only the beginning TEXT peter Marten PHOTO SuSanna KeKKonen Sustaining peace is a global concern, says Nobel Peace Prize winner and former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari. n our interdependent world, conflicts in one area can have global repercussions but peace in one place also resonates on other continents. Martti Ahtisaari plays a major role in creating peace agreements in conflict areas. He and Crisis Management Initiative (CMI), the non-profit conflict resolution organisation he founded, also follow up to help ensure that peace continues and support systems exist. The initial handshake when the peace deal is reached is just the beginning. "Aceh is a very good example," says Ahtisaari. The peace agreement he helped broker between the Indonesian government and the Free Aceh Movement put an end in 2005 to 30 years of conflict. CMI has been asked by the EU to support the peace building process. Ahtisaari visits Aceh at least once a year and CMI staff visits more frequently to "discuss with the government and different party representatives how to move forward." "We have our own representative there on the spot. We have very close cooperation not only with the EU but with the UN system as well as the World Bank and the whole development community, because we have the same aim: to improve people's living conditions." I Measures that have been achieved or are in the works in Aceh include establishing a human rights court and a truth and reconciliation commission, supporting the Parliament in its work and helping citizens transition from armed fighting to proper professions. Ahtisaari notes that the different sides in the agreement must truly want to make and keep peace: "If both the government and the people did not want it, nobody would be able to facilitate the process." Finns are seen as people who assist without pushing their own agendas. "One thing that has helped me in international tasks is that I can say I come from a Nordic country," says Ahtisaari. This positive reputation can help when working on innovative ways to promote peace. In Liberia, for instance, CMI helps coordinate a birth registration programme, together with Finnish mobile phone manufacturer Nokia and local companies and authorities. Utilising a mobile device, a person can easily obtain a birth certificate, even if living in a rural area. What do birth registrations have to do with building peace? If you are not known to exist, your rights as a citizen may also cease to exist. A lack of such basic rights contributed to setting the scene for civil war in Liberia. Birth certificates facilitate registration for schools, voting and passports. All this builds better trust between the state and its citizens, helping sustain peace. 6
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