”This honorable distinction is not for me, for all the victims of the conflict”
Early Friday morning, The Nobel Prize committee announced the 2016 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize: Colombia’s president, Juan Manuel Santos.
“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,” the committee said in a statement.
The prize comes somewhat as a surprise after the people of Colombia voted “No” on a peace treaty between the nation and the Marxist Fuerzas Armadas de Colombia, also known as FARC, a rebel group which started as a political movement more than 50 years ago and slowly moved into the drug trade. Over the half-century conflict, an estimated 200,000 people have been killed.
However, over the last few years, President Santos has worked tirelessly to broker a peace deal that would bring the horrifying conflict to an end. But, on October 3, the people voted “no” believing the deal to be too lenient on those members of FARC who committed crimes as the deal offered immunity for a range of activities including drug dealing, human trafficking, and murder.
“The fact that a majority of the voters said no to the peace accord does not necessarily mean that the peace process is dead,” the Nobel committee said in its statement, adding,
“The referendum was not a vote for or against peace. What the ‘No’ side rejected was not the desire for peace, but a specific peace agreement. The Norwegian Nobel Committee emphasizes the importance of the fact that President Santos is now inviting all parties to participate in a broad-based national dialogue aimed at advancing the peace process. Even those who opposed the peace accord have welcomed such a dialogue. The Nobel Committee hopes that all parties will take their share of responsibility and participate constructively in the upcoming peace talks.”
For his part, President Santos tweeted his response saying, “This honorable distinction is not for me, it’s for all the victims of the conflict. Together we will win the biggest prize of all: LA PAZ”