Fletcher Welcomes 2023 Commencement Speaker Pekka Haavisto
The Fletcher School is honored to announce that His Excellency Pekka Olavi Haavisto, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Finland, will deliver the keynote remarks at the school’s Commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 21, 2023.
Foreign Minister Haavisto is a celebrated diplomat with an abiding commitment to global security, climate policy, democracy, and human rights. Under his leadership as the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Finland took a momentous step for international unity and earlier this month became the thirty-first country to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Following Russia’s unprovoked full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year, both Finland and Sweden applied for membership in the defensive alliance. Finland has taken a strong stance on Russia despite the risks posed for the country, with whom it shares an 830-mile border and a history of invasions. On the anniversary of the signing of the Washington Treaty, which first established NATO in 1949, Finland joined the alliance through the fastest ratification process in the bloc’s seventy-four years history.
Throughout his career at the forefront of Finnish politics, he has been a powerful voice in advocating for peace and the environment in foreign policy. From 1987 to 1995, he served as a member of Finland’s Parliament, returning for his current second term in 2007. From 1995 to 1999, he served as Minister of Development and the Environment, and from 2013 to 2014 as Minister for International Development. He has twice led Finland’s Green League party, and along with German Minister for Foreign Affairs Annalena Baerbock, he represents the increasing presence of the green movement in the top ranks of European foreign ministries. He was the country’s first openly gay presidential candidate, running in 2012 and in 2018, and in addition to his roles on both national and global stages, he has represented local constituents as a member of the Helsinki City Council.
On the global stage, from 1999 to 2005, he chaired the United Nations Environment Program task forces on the environmental impacts of war in the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, Liberia, occupied Palestinian territory, and Sudan. He was the European Union’s Special Representative for Sudan and Darfur from 2005 to 2007 and subsequently served as the Special Advisor for the United Nations in the Darfur peace process in 2007 and with the Finnish government as Special Representative to the Minister for Foreign Affairs in African crises from 2009 to 2017.
At a time when Fletcher students, faculty, scholars, and alumni are working tirelessly to address questions of global insecurity, they will hear from one of the world’s preeminent diplomats, and one who shares Fletcher’s vision of finding solutions through international cooperation.
Minister Haavisto’s remarks will be live streamed as part of Fletcher’s Commencement ceremony beginning at 11:30am EDT on Sunday, May 21, 2023.