Ahtisaari: We must be prepared to perform international expert tasks

Experts in forensic medicine study matters that are important in conflict resolution and peacemaking, says former president Martti Ahtisaari.


Settling conflicts is a factor that unites former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year, and the Department of Forensic Medicine of the University of Helsinki.

The Department of Forensic Medicine awarded Ahtisaari its medal on February 3 in thanks for his support for the operations of the Finnish Forensic Expert group.

"In your work, you study matters that are very important in the resolution of conflicts and peacemaking," Ahtisaari said in his speech.

The operations of the Finnish Forensic Expert group started with the MV Estonia shipwreck; the victims of the accident were identified in Finland.

"At that time, I noted that in the future we should have the permanent readiness to perform these kinds of international tasks," says Erkki Vuori, Chairman of the Department of Forensic Medicine.

The Finnish Forensic Expert group's skills have been utilised in Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Chechnya, Nepal and in Thailand after the tsunami. In cooperation with Finland's Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the local university in Peru, the Department of Forensic Medicine also has trained researchers in forensic medicine in Peru and similar educational cooperation is being planned for Columbia.

Securing funding for the operations of the Finnish Forensic Expert group has been a problem from the start. Financiers can be found for individual operations – it is a kind of contract work – but money is also needed to maintain readiness: for equipment and training.

"We must have the permanent readiness in Finland for international tasks in this field, and I believe development cooperation funding could be earmarked for this," Ahtisaari said.

Ilkka Niiniluoto, Chancellor of the University of Helsinki, and Kimmo Kontula, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, also participated in Ahtisaari's visit.

Text: Päivi Lehtinen
Photo: Wilma Hurskainen

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