Mr Ahtisaari joined the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland in 1965, holding various posts in the Ministry’s Bureau for Technical co-operation from 1965 to 1972, and serving as Assistant Director from 1971-1972.
He served as Deputy Director, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Department for International Development Co-operation between 1972-1973. He was a member of the Government Advisory Committee on the Trade and Industrialization Affairs of the developing Countries from 1971-1973.
Prior to joining the United Nations, Mr Ahtisaari served as Ambassador of Finland to the United Republic of Tanzania (1973-1976) and was also accredited to Zambia, Somalia and Mozambique (1975-1976). He served as a member of the Senate of the Institute for Namibia between 1975-1976.
Mr Ahtisaari served as United Nations Commissioner for Namibia between 1977-1981. He was appointed Special Representative of the Secretary General for Namibia in July 1978.
Mr Ahtisaari served between 1984-1986 as Under-Secretary of State in charge of International Development Co-operation in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland as well as Special Representative of the Secretary General for Namibia. He was Governor for Finland in the African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank and Inter-American Development Bank as well as in the International Fund for Agricultural Development. Mr Ahtisaari was during that period Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Finnish Industrialization Fund for developing countries.
Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar appointed Mr Ahtisaari as Under-Secretary General for Administration and Management, effective 1 January 1987. Mr Ahtisaari retained his functions as Special Representative of the Secretary General for Namibia and led the UN operation (UNTAG) in Namibia (1989-1990). Mr Ahtisaari served as Under-Secretary General up until 30 June 1991.
As of 1 July 1991, Mr Ahtisaari has served as Secretary of State in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland in Helsinki.
From the beginning of September 1992 until 15 April 1993 Mr Ahtisaari was Chairman of the Bosnia-Hercegovina Working Group of the International Conference on the former Yugoslavia. Beginning 1 July 1993, for a period of four months, Mr Ahtisaari served as Special Adviser to the International Conference on Former Yugoslavia and to the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative for former Yugoslavia.
Mr Ahtisaari was elected President of the Republic of Finland in February 1994. He took oath of office on 1 March 1994.
Mr Ahtisaari graduated from the University of Oulu, Finland in 1959 and received an Honorary Doctorate (Pedagogy) from his university 1989. He received an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Bentley College, Waltham, Massachusetts in 1990; of Political Science from Kasetsart University, Bangkok 1995; of Social Sciences from University of Turku in 1995; of Economics and Business Administration (Helsinki School of Economics and Business Administration) 1996; of the University of Palermo (Argentina) 1997; of Philosophy from University of Helsinki in 1997; of Pedagogy from Kyiv 1998 and of Technology from University of Technology, Espoo 1998.
A citizen of Finland, Mr Ahtisaari was born on 23 June 1937. He is married and has a son.