The 2016 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos for his resolute efforts to bring the country’s 50-year civil war to an end.
The war has cost the lives of at least 220,000 Colombians and displaced close to six million people.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee made the announcement in Oslo on Friday a few days after Colombians narrowly rejected the proposed peace deal the government negotiated.
The Colombian government under Santos spent four years negotiating a peace deal with FARC rebels which was rejected at the October 2 referendum.
The announcement will come as a surprise for many Colombians who thought President Santos’ chances for the prize had been ruined by the rejection of the peace deal.
Critics of the deal rejected it because according to them, it does not do enough to punish the rebels. The president’s opposition also say that Santos was being motivated by winning the Nobel Peace Prize in his search for peace in Colombia.
The Nobel Committee however said the outcome “was not what President Santos wanted,” but acknowledged that he was “instrumental in ensuring that Colombian voters were able to voice their opinion concerning the peace accord in a referendum.”
The committee further added
“The award should 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. This tribute is paid, not least, to the representatives of the countless victims of the civil war.”
President Juan Manuel Santos addressed the nation expressing gratitude at becoming the newest Nobel peace prize laureate and his hopes for peace in Colombia.
”I am infinitely grateful for this honorable distinction with all my heart. I accept it not on my behalf but on behalf of all Colombians, especially the millions of victims of this conflict which we have suffered for more than 50 years.”
Santos also said:
”I receive this recognition with great humility and as a mandate to continue to work without rest for peace for all Colombians. I will dedicate all my efforts to this cause for the rest of my days.”