The granting of the Nobel Peace Prize to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos sends a powerful signal of support for the peace process and the bridging of division in Colombia.
The granting of the prize comes at a delicate moment, less than a week after the peace deal between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebel movement was voted down by a very small margin in a referendum. “The disappointing result of the referendum was certainly not a plea for less peace and justice, but actually a call for more peace and justice,” says PAX director Jan Gruiters. “The Nobel Peace Prize creates a moral obligation for all the parties to fulfil the promise of the peace process.”
Prize for the victims
The prize can be seen as recognition for the work of the negotiators, those of the FARC as well as of the government. During the past four years, both sides have demonstrated responsibility and persistence, and the peace accord is the result of those efforts.
But the peace prize can also be seen as an homage to the victims of the conflict. After all, they have been the principle force in the struggle for truth finding, justice, reparation and reconciliation in Colombia. Reacting to being awarded the prize, Santos said, “I receive this with great emotion and this is something that will forever be important for my country for the people who have suffered with this war, especially the victims.”
Build on accord
The prize is also recognition for the peace accord itself, which analysts have called one of the most sophisticated, comprehensive and well-wrought documents of its kind. PAX urges the supporters and opponents of the accord, during their current consultations, to strengthen the agreement such that the Colombian people can fully support it. But the rights of the conflict’s victims to truth finding, justice, reparations and reconciliation must remain central.
PAX will continue to monitor all efforts made within the framework of the negotiations between the government and the FARC. It is essential that the indefinite ceasefire should be maintained. In addition, the agreement should be more inclusive, and must also include other groups such as the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the Popular Liberation Army (EPL).
PAX has been involved with the peace process in Colombia for many years. Some years ago, PAX also turned to working on human rights abuses related to carbon extraction in the northern part of Colombia. PAX is currently lobbying European energy concerns to stop buying so-called blood coal from Colombia until decisive steps have been taken by the mining companies towards effective remedy for the victims in the Cesar mining region (see short explanatory film here).
We hope that the Nobel Peace Prize may help the people of Colombia resolve their decades-long conflict and finally achieve peace.