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Crisis Group Congratulates Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Nobel Prize
Crisis Group Congratulates Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Nobel Prize

Crisis Group Congratulates Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Nobel Prize

International Crisis Group congratulates Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on his recognition as the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2016. The award comes at a crucial moment as the peace process hangs in the balance, and should encourage all sides in Colombia to seek a rapid end to the war.

International Crisis Group congratulates Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on his well-deserved recognition as the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2016, after devoting his term in office and most of his political capital to the task of healing the armed conflict that has plagued his country for over 50 years. Santos learned from his previous experience as defence minister, a post in which he was responsible for major battlefield triumphs against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), that only a negotiated peace would end the war.

The decision to bury half a century of rancour and vengefulness through peace talks has cost Santos dearly. His principal political rival, former President Álvaro Uribe, led the campaign to defeat the peace deal, which was signed by the government and the FARC in September. In a plebiscite on the agreement that took place last weekend, Uribe and his supporters eked out a narrow margin of victory, with only 37 per cent of the electorate voting at all.

The referendum might have proved an ignominious end to four years of painstaking negotiations with the guerrillas. But the president immediately invited his rivals to a new round of dialogue in order to address their concerns over impunity and other issues, extended the ceasefire with the FARC, and confirmed he would continue to seek peace “until the very last day of my mandate.”

Defeat in the plebiscite made clear that unanimous international support for the peace agreement from across the political spectrum—including from Norway, Cuba, Venezuela, Chile, the U.S. and the European Union—was not sufficient to persuade a majority of Colombians to back the deal, and may even have repelled some voters. However, the Nobel Prize and the recognition given by the Nobel Committee to negotiators and guerrilla leaders comes at a crucial moment as the peace process hangs in the balance, and new tripartite renegotiations between government, opposition and FARC begin. International support should bolster the determination of President Santos to fulfill the overriding mission of his mandate, and enable him to withstand the pressures that he and his negotiators will now endure.

Crisis Group commends the award, and hopes that it encourages all sides to seek a rapid end to the war.

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