Americas

Juan Manuel Santos Wins Nobel Peace Prize

Norwegian Nobel Committee awards President of Colombia with Peace Prize for his efforts to end conflict in Colombia

October 19th, 2016
Irene Escacena, CD News
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Four years after peace talks started in Havana, Juan Manuel Santos has almost achieved what all former presidents of Colombia have been trying for decades: a peace agreement with FARC. Even though the ceasefire was already announced by the guerrilla, the future of the negotiations is at stake after Colombians voted against the peace agreement in a referendum.

The 2016 Nobel Peace Prize represents the international recognition given to Santos for his political efforts in order to bring to an end the longest conflict in Latin America. He has brought the negotiations further than ever before and now the end of the only remaining armed conflict on the continent seems closer.

The negotiations were carried out in a way which tried to include all the parties involved in the conflict. Alongside the government, the opposition and FARC’s representatives, Santos brought some groups of victims to the talks. Moreover, the texts of the Havana Agreement were published so everybody had access to them.

President Santo’s desire to ensure that Colombians had a voice in the peace accords is another indication of his respect for democracy. As a result, a referendum was held on 2nd October. It resulted in a victory for the “No” campaign, which was led by the former president Uribe and which won with a narrow 50.2% majority.

The holders of this position maintain that they are not against the peace but against the terms under which the peace was dealt and, above all, against the impunity for the rebels. However, their rejection of the accords means that questions such as when the disarmament will take place remain unanswered.

However, on 7th October, Juan Manuel Santos' efforts to end the more than 50 years of conflict were recognized with the Nobel Peace Prize. Among the 376 nominated candidates were the Syrian White Halmets, civilian volunteers who rescued bomb victims, the negotiators of the international deal to limit Iran's nuclear program and Greek islanders who had been on the front line of Europe's refugee crisis.

The award, which Santos dedicated to the “all the victims of the conflict” also includes a prize of 8 million Swedish crowns which will be donated towards the reparation of the victims. The chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Kaci Kullmann Five, said that, “the award should also be seen as a tribute to the Colombian people who, despite great hardships and abuses, have not given up hope of a just peace, and to all the parties who have contributed to the peace process”.

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