Matti Wuori

Feature story - 17 October, 2005
Matti Wuori, founder of Greenpeace Finland and former Board Chair of Greenpeace International from 1991 - 1993, died aged 60 in Helsinki on October 16th.

Matti Wuori, founder of Greenpeace Finland and the former Board Chair of Greenpeace International from 1991 - 1993.

Matti was a Renaissance man who could read 13 languages and was asarticulate about art, literature, and music as he was outspoken abouthuman rights and environmentalism.  He believed passionately inthe importance of non-governmental organisations (NGO's) as a foil tocorporations and governments in civil society, and he served as anadviser or board member to more than a dozen of them.

"Matti Wuori was a strong, visionary voice within civil society groupsin Europe. He worked tirelessly to protect the environment and humanrights, as well as strengthen the position of non-governmentalorganisations in society."

"Wuori was a 'global citizen' in the true meaning of the word. He didnot hesitate to criticise polluting governments and companies whoviolate legal and ethical environmental guidelines" said ExecutiveDirector, Lennart Daleus at Greenpeace Nordic.

Matti's work at Greenpeace was not complete. This autumn he was set tolead a fact-finding mission on the violation of international law inlogging operations in the indigenous Sámi homeland in Northern Finland.Wuori was committed to represent the Sámi reindeer herders at theEuropean Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

"I remember well how Matti reminded NGO activists in Brussels that thecore business of any NGO should be to pose nasty questions todecision-makers. Matti wanted non-governmental organisations to work aswatch dogs and alarm clocks in society. He often reminded us about thedangers of becoming marionettes for governments or companies. Wepromise to live up to his expectations and carry on his impressivework" said Campaign Director, Mads Christensen at Greenpeace Nordic inHelsinki.

"Matti was chairman of Greenpeace International from 1991 to 1993. Anincredibly talented environmental and human rights campaigner, Mattiplayed a series of very significant roles here at Greenpeace. Hisenergy and commitment will be greatly missed" said Jeanne Moffat, BoardMember of Greenpeace International.

Matti  was also a board member of Greenpeace in the Czech republicand Hungary until his death. In addition to his work atGreenpeace,  Matti was a prominent Finnish lawyer and formerMember of the EuropeanParliament. He also worked as an adviser to the South African Truth andReconciliation Commission from 1996 until 1998.

In a rich and varied lifetime, Matti was called upon to giveexpert testimony in spotting fraudulent artwork, acted in a featurefilm (in which he played, not surprisingly, a Finnish lawyer), servedon the board of the Avanti! chamber orchestra, wrote two books andlectured on human rights, democracy, and constitutional law. He wasalso known to dance an inimitable jitterbug.

Matti succumbed to a long battle with cancer.

"He was that rarest of combinations: a scholar and an activist. He'd looked human civilization hard in the eye, saw it for what it was,and set about the task of redressing its ills, while never losing sightof its beauty," said Greenpeace International Board Chair Anne Summers.