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The Annual Harri Holkeri Lecture 2024

The New European Security: Lesson’s Learned from Finland’s Road to NATO

June 6, 2024
Emeleus Lecture Theatre, Physics Building, Queen’s University Belfast
16:00 - 17:30

Speaker: Pekka Haavisto MP (Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Finland)

Chair: Professor Richard English (Queen’s University Belfast)


The Harri Holkeri Lecture Series celebrates the contribution of the late Finnish Prime Minister Harri Holkeri to the Northern Ireland peace process.  His aim of transforming conflict and promoting social justice in Northern Ireland and across the world is shared by the Mitchell Institute.  We are honoured to partner with the Embassy of Finland, London, to host the Harri Holkeri Lecture Series.


About the Speaker

Pekka Haavisto is a Member of Parliament and the former Foreign Minister of Finland.  He is a peace negotiator and a defender of both democracy and human rights.  Haavisto is especially experienced in foreign policy and international operations.  He has led research into the environmental impact of wars and represented the EU and the UN in various crises all over the world. Haavisto has also authored numerous books.  His beloved hobbies are literature, Beetle cars, and wooden boats.


About the Lecture

Finland has been a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization since the 4th of July 2023. But how to be a member of NATO without narrowing the possibilities for Finnish trademark foreign policy: non-violent mediation and peace building?

The ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza have a negative effect on the security of the whole of Europe. What possibilities do small countries, such as Finland and Ireland, have in mediating sustainable peace?


About the Chair

Professor Richard English is Director of the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security, and Justice at Queen’s University Belfast, where he is also Professor of Politics.  His books include Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA (2003) and Does Terrorism Work? A History (2016).  He is a Fellow of the British Academy, a Member of the Royal Irish Academy, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.  In 2018 he was awarded a CBE for services to the understanding of modern-day terrorism and political history. In 2019 he was awarded the Royal Irish Academy's Gold Medal in the Social Sciences.


About the Harri Holkeri Lecture Series

Harri Holkeri (1937-2011) played a prominent role in the Northern Ireland peace process, helping to forge the Good Friday Agreement. As a member of the Mitchell Committee, working with Senator George J. Mitchell and General John de Chastelain.

Harri Holkeri facilitated the decommissioning of illegal weapons in Northern Ireland. His skills as negotiator and consensus-builder were crucial in the multi-party peace negotiations.  He was awarded the title of Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1999 for his achievement and impact in the Northern Ireland peace process.

Harri Holkeri was Prime Minister of Finland from 1987 to 1991.  He was a well-respected political figure, serving as Party Leader of Finland’s National Coalition Party from 1971 to 1979.  He was a Member of Parliament from 1970 to 1978. During his time as Prime Minister, he headed a coalition formed by his party and the Social Democrats.  Holkeri held a number of positions at the international level and made a significant contribution to addressing global issues.  He was Vice-President of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) Parliamentarians from 1974 to 1975 and President in 1976.  He was also a member of the Nordic Council from 1975 to 1978 and he was President of the United Nations General Assembly from 2000 to 2001.

Harri Holkeri held the Finnish Honorary Title of Valtioneuvos for his national and international achievements. This honorary title of the highest class was awarded in 1998 by the then President of the Republic of Finland, Martti Ahtisaari.


Harri Holkeri Lecture Series

We have hosted 8 Lectures in the series to date.  Speakers have included:


8th Harri Holkeri Lecture

24 April 2023

Dr Anne Anderson

Perspective; Conscience; Integrity: Reflections From a Career in Diplomacy


7th Harri Holkeri Lecture

21 May 2019

Bertie Ahern

Peace Process - In Light of Brexit Issues


6th Harri Holkeri Lecture

29 May 2018

President Michael D. Higgins

Remembering, Forgiving, Forgetting and Imagining


5th Harri Holkeri Lecture

9 May 2017

Tarja Halonen, Former President of Finland

Reflections on Women and Peace-building


4th Harri Holkeri Lecture

23 May 2016

Arlene Foster, Former First Minister of Northern Ireland

Women, Leadership and Peace-building


3rd Harri Holkeri Lecture

22 April 2015

Senator George J. Mitchell

Reflections on Brokering Peace in Divided Societies


2nd Harri Holkeri Lecture

29 May 2014

Ambassador Akbar S. Ahmed

Islam, Peace-building and Conflict Transformation


1st Harri Holkeri Lecture

21 May 2013

Martti Ahtisaari, Former President of Finland

Egalitarianism in Conflict Resolution


Public Engagement
The Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice
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