Martti Ahtisaari And The Helsinki Accords Great Negotiator Case Study Series

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James K. Sebenius and Laurence A. Green

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Martti Ahtisaari And The Helsinki Accords – The Challenge

In early January 2005, Martti Ahtisaari leaned back in his spacious office at Eteläranta 12, looking over the picturesque Helsinki harbor and pondering the upcoming negotiations between the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and the Indonesian government. The "modern" phase of the insurgency by GAM fighters from the province of Aceh (pronounced "ah-chey") that sought independence from Indonesia had persisted for some 30 years, claiming tens of thousands dead, countless wounded and tortured, as well as economic damage estimated by the World Bank at over $11 billion. In a few short days, Ahtisaari, former Finnish President and longtime diplomat active in some of the world's nastiest trouble spots, would see if he and his team could help foster an elusive accord between the bitter, distrustful parties to the conflict.

Martti Ahtisaari received the 2010 Program on Negotiation "Great Negotiator" Award.

Martti Ahtisaari And The Helsinki Accords – Overcoming The Barriers

In August 2005, before dozens of onlookers, cameramen, and reporters, three men signed their names to a document in Helsinki, Finland, effectively putting thirty years of violence to rest half-a-world away. Eight months of intense negotiations had ended with an accord between the Government of Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) that few had believed possible. The Memorandum of Understanding signed that day, also known as “The Helsinki Agreement,” recognized a new status for Aceh, the northernmost province in Indonesia. At the bottom of the last page, signed as witness to the historic occasion, was the name Martti Ahtisaari.

Martti Ahtisaari received the 2010 Program on Negotiation "Great Negotiator" Award.

Both The Challenge and Overcoming The Barriers are designed to help students examine complex negotiation and coalition building strategies in an international context. The two case studies are related, but may either be used together or separately.

Martti Ahtisaari And The Helsinki Accords Attributes

Authors: James K. Sebenius and Laurence A. Green
Publisher: Program on Negotiation