Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet Wins 2015 Nobel Peace Prize

The quartet works to foster "pluralistic democracy in Tunisia."

09/10/2015 8:05 PM AEDT | Updated 10/10/2015 2:35 AM AEDT

The Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet won the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for its "decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia."

Kaci Kullmann Five, chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, announced the prize.

The quartet, a coalition of four Tunisian organizations -- the Tunisian General Labour Union, the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts, the Tunisian Human Rights League and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers -- served as a "mediator and driving force to advance peaceful democratic development in Tunisia," Five said.

"The quartet paved the way for a peaceful dialogue between the citizens, the political parties and the authorities and helped to find consensus-based solutions to a wide range of challenges across political and religious divides," she added. "The broad-based national dialogue that the quartet succeeded in establishing countered the spread of violence in Tunisia, and its function is therefore comparable to that of the peace congresses to which Alfred Nobel refers in his will."

The Arab Spring, which originated in Tunisia in 2010 and 2011, quickly spread to a number of countries in North Africa and the Middle East. But by the summer of 2013, when the quartet was established, the democratization process in Tunisia was in danger of collapsing after two opposition politicians, Chokri Belaïd and Mohamed Brahmi, were assassinated.

Acting as a third party in negotiations between the country's political parties to ensure a democratic transition and avert a crisis, the quartet helped guarantee the agreement that culminated in a peaceful and democratic parliamentary election last fall.

"I want to offer my heartiest congratulations to the quartet for their national dialogue initiative and their continuous efforts throughout this difficult time," Mustapha Ben Jaafar, the former president of Tunisia's National Constituent Assembly, told HuffPost Tunisia. "This is an opportunity for me to express my pride in belonging to this country. I am proud to be Tunisian, proud to have supported the quartet and proud of our Constitution."

Credit: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
The Nobel Peace Prize is a huge victory for small Tunisia.

Ali Zeddini of the Tunisian Human Rights League shared his pride about the award with HuffPost Tunisia. “This proves that dialogue allows us to overcome our most complex challenges. It’s sending a message to our neighbors that are plagued by violence, namely Libya and Syria.” 

“My thoughts go to the martyrs of the revolution, Chokri Belaïd, Mohamed Brahmi and all other victims of terrorism,” he added.

“We are proud that our efforts have been acknowledged -- both the quartet’s efforts and those of the Tunisian people. This reward belongs to the people,” Belgacem Ayari, executive member of Tunisia’s General Labour Union, told HuffPost Tunisia.

“This is yet another indication of Tunisia’s exceptionality. We’re hoping that this can now translate into democratic transition with greater social and political stability across the region,” he added.

Although Tunisia's revolution was much less violent than in neighboring countries, the country's transition to democracy has been marred by occasional violence, including two extremist attacks this year that killed 60 people and devastated Tunisia's tourism industry.

On its website, the Nobel Committee said it hopes awarding the peace prize to the quartet will encourage the Tunisian people to continue working toward peace and serve as an inspiration to other countries seeking to promote democracy.

The Nobel Peace Prize, which is worth about $972,000, will be presented to representatives of the quartet in December, per Reuters.

The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences will be awarded on Monday.

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