House keys are our most valuable asset - and yet the first thing that a person running away
from a conflict no longer needs. CMI - Martti Ahtisaari Peace Foundation assembled
authentic house keys around the world for a groundbreaking exhibition witnessed by more
than 7,000 business leaders, in the Nordic Business Forum, on the International day of
Peace, 21 October.
“As we all know, house keys have a huge meaning. They represent safety, independence
and new beginnings. In many ways, house keys are our most valuable possession. They
always go with us – and yet the keys are the first thing that a person fleeing war no longer
needs”, says Janne Taalas, CEO of CMI, one of the leading peace mediation organisations
in the world.
The Keys for Peace exhibition presents keys and their owners from conflict areas around the
world: Ukraine, Mali, Bosnia, Burundi, Afghanistan, Palestine, Libya and ceded Karelia in
Finland. They are people from different backgrounds, from serial entrepreneur to radio host
and a political dialogue promoter. They have in common the fact that their home turned from
the safest place on Earth to the unsafest one.
While the stories and backgrounds differ from each other, they all share the same nemesis
of being forced to leave their homes. One of the stories in the exhibition is that of a boy,
called Martti Ahtisaari, who would later become the President of Finland and a Nobel Peace
Prize Laureate. Ahtisaari left his home in Karelia when he was only 2 years old, after the
invasion of the Soviet Union in the 2nd World War. His key never made it back home.
Physical demonstration on NBF main stage and apartment sales ads
We live in a world where over 100 million* people are running from conflict and human rights
violations. On the first day of the Nordic Business Forum September 20th CMI demonstrated
physically on the main stage just how many people have had to flee war - and how only 1,5
% actually end up returning home. This was done by taping house keys under some 100
random seats for the listeners to find, and asking for them to stand up while another 6,900
people remained seated.
“While scripting the moderator's speech we wanted one thing to really sink in and be
remembered, and that was the fact that so many have to leave and so few of them ever get
to return home. We decided to demonstrate it by turning everyone in the room refugees by
thought. Whoever has experienced 7,000 people intensively clapping, it is a powerful wave
of emotion”, says Martta Kallio, Creative Director at TBWA\Helsinki.
The campaign was also promoted with apartment sales ads on a local apartment search
site. The ads stated to be selling a three room apartment in Kiev and a detached house in
Kabul with a price of 28 Million euros. The high price of the apartment was no coincidence
“The cost of human suffering caused by conflicts is almost impossible to define. However,
we can try: world warfare costs 28 million euros per minute**, as does this imaginary
apartment. With that money one could arrange more than 700 rounds of peace negotiations.
This announcement is a reminder of the humane cost of war - what humanity has started,
humanity can stop. We all hold the keys for peace”, says Taalas.
Read the stories, browse tour schedules (Finland) and read more about how you can be
involved in resolving conflicts and investing in peace.