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What Does President Santos’ Nobel Prize Win Mean for Colombia?

Juan Manuel Santos won the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end a 52-year-old war with Marxist FARC rebels.

Published
World
3 min read
 Juan Manuel Santos speaks after winning the Nobel Peace Prize. (Photo: Reuters)

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos won the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for his efforts to end a 52-year-old war with Marxist FARC rebels, just five days after Colombians rejected a peace accord in a referendum vote.

Juan Manuel Santos speaks to supporters of the peace deal he signed with rebels of FARC. (Photo: AP)
Juan Manuel Santos speaks to supporters of the peace deal he signed with rebels of FARC. (Photo: AP)

The deal was narrowly rejected by a difference of fewer than 54,000 votes, triggering uncertainty over the future of the accord as opponents demand changes to a deal they say is too lenient to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

International experts hope the award will support and boost Colombia's faltering peace process to end a war that has killed more than 200,000 people and displaced millions.

Here are what some of the world's leading human rights experts and the United Nations have said about the peace prize:

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Santos presents a copy of a peace agreement that was forged in his country to UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon during a meeting at the UN headquarters. (Photo: AP)
Santos presents a copy of a peace agreement that was forged in his country to UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon during a meeting at the UN headquarters. (Photo: AP)

Rigoberta Menchu, a Guatemalan indigenous rights activist and the first Latin American to win the peace prize in 1992, tweeted:

The Nobel Prize is hope for all the victims who yearn for the war to end so that they can start their lives again. I urge Colombia to continue with conviction to seek peaceful alternatives for dialogue and negotiation until peace with justice is achieved.

Jodi Williams, 1997 Nobel Peace Laureate and anti-landmine campaigner, said:

The years of work for a peace accord after five decades of war merits the global recognition of the Peace Prize. I think the choice would have been that much stronger had the FARC been named as well. It takes two sides to make war and those two sides must work together for peace.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon:

A file photo of United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. (Photo: Reuters)
A file photo of United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. (Photo: Reuters)
This is a timely message to all who have toiled so hard for peace... It tells them to keep working until they have brought the peace process to a successful conclusion. This award says to them: you have come too far to turn back now.

Jan Egeland, head of Norwegian Refugee Council:

There is only one solution to the Colombian conflict, and that is through political negotiations. The war has had devastating impacts on civilians, and 7 million have been displaced from their homes. It is now crucial to restart negotiations with the FARC guerilla and reach a new agreement. Our hope is that this award will provide encouragement to the parties to never give up on peace.
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Salil Shetty, head of rights group Amnesty International:

We hope today’s announcement will embolden the parties to continue efforts to reach a definitive peace agreement that ensures the right of victims to truth, justice and reparation and brings an end to the human rights violations that have marked the armed conflict.

(Published in an arrangement with the Thomas Reuters Foundation which is a charity registered in England and Wales. )

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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