The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2016 to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos for his resolute efforts to bring the country’s more than 50-year-long civil war to an end. In the announcement, the Nobel Committee states further that the award should also be seen as a tribute to the Colombian people who have not given up hope of a just peace, and to all the parties who have contributed to the peace process, as well as to the representatives of the countless victims of the civil war.
Comment from the Director of the Åland Islands Peace Institute, Professor Kjell-Åke Nordquist:
“This year’s laureate, President Juan Manuel Santos, has managed to break the vicious cycle of polarization, deepening inequality and uninhibited violence suffered by Colombian society for more than 50 years of guerrilla war. The four-year negotiation process that lies behind the peace agreement with the largest guerrilla group, FARC, has created a radical change in the political landscape in Colombia and in the region. Similar attempts have been made by previous presidents. Santos has managed to establish a relationship with the guerrillas and thus have been able to balance the internal and international pressure with a political craftsmanship, which after four years of negotiations has led to an agreement. Without a doubt, this effort is in Nobel Peace Prize class and is also close to the intentions of Alfred Nobel as described in his will.”
Professor Kjell-Åke Nordquist attended a conference on mediation and culture of peace in Colombia on 26 September, the date when the historic peace agreement between the government of Colombia and the Marxist guerrilla movement Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) was signed. The Director reported home of an ambiance of hope in the country. Since then, a referendum has been held, where a narrow majority of the voters rejected the peace accord, thus creating uncertainty as to the future of Colombia. The Nobel Committee writes in its motivation that the referendum result does not necessarily mean that the peace process is dead. By awarding this year’s Peace Prize to President Juan Manuel Santos, the Committee wishes to encourage all those who are striving to achieve peace, reconciliation and justice in Colombia.