Martti Ahtisaari’s Nobel Peace Prize Lecture

From Martti Ahtisaari‘s Nobel Lecture:

All conflicts can be resolved
Wars and conflicts are not inevitable. They are caused by human beings. There are always interests that are furthered by war. Therefore those who have power and influence can also stop them.

Peace is a question of will. All conflicts can be settled, and there are no excuses for allowing them to become eternal. It is simply intolerable that violent conflicts defy resolution for decades causing immeasurable human suffering, and preventing economic and social development. The passivity and impotence of the international community make it more difficult for us to place our faith in jointly built security structures. Despite the many challenges, even the most intractable conflicts can be resolved if the parties involved and the international community join forces and work together for a common aim. The United Nations provides the right framework for international peace efforts and solutions to global problems. However, we are all aware of the constraints of the United Nations and of the tendency of the member states to give it demanding assignments without providing adequate resources and political support. It is important that the UN member states work resolutely to strengthen the world organization. We cannot afford to lose the UN.

In a conflict, one party can always claim victory, but building peace must involve everybody: the weak and the powerful, the victors and the vanquished, men and women, young and old. However, peace negotiations are often conducted by a small elite. In the future we must be better able to achieve a broader participation in peace processes. Particularly, there is a need to ensure the engagement of women in all stages of a peace process.

Peace processes and the agreements resulting from them end the violence. But the real work only starts after a peace agreement has been concluded. The agreements reached have to be implemented. Social and political change does not happen overnight, and the reconstruction and establishment of democracy demand patience. That requires a comprehensive approach to peacebuilding, and support for civil society.

Inequality breeds conflict

Growing inequality within countries and between regions deepens the existing cleavages. It is our task to create a future and hope for regions and countries in crisis where young people suffer from unemployment and have little prospects of improving their lives. Unless we can meet this challenge, new conflicts will flare up and we will lose another generation to war.

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