There were 273 nominations for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, including Pope Francis, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, Edward Snowden, Angela Merkel, US Secretary of State John Kerry and ICAN. But the one chosen by the Norwegian committee was Tunisia’s National Dialogue Quartet for “its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralist democracy in Tunisia in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution of 2011.” Tunisia’s National Dialogue Quartet are a peace coalition made up of four organised groups representing different professions and employers who have been working to re-democratize Tunisia since 2013 when Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution looked like was going to follow the path of Egypt. The quartet organised and controlled talks between the different forces and got them to agree and compromise (The Guardian). Tunisia is not rid of problems but it is alone in the Arab spring states in retaining democratic aspirations.
The Norwegian Nobel committee say they hope this prize will help safeguard democracy in Tunisia and inspire those who seek peace and democracy in other war-torn areas. Also, that the prize will encourage the Tunisian people who have overcome enormous challenges to lay a groundwork for re-democratization in their own country. Thus it is about strengthening the peace process.
So, does Tunisia’s National Dialogue Quartet satisfy Nobel’s specifications for the peace prize laureate?
I think it is impossible to argue that this group hasn’t championed peace in Tunisia. Without their hard work and success in overcoming their own personal differences in view, it is incredibly likely that Tunisia would have followed in the footsteps of Syria, Libya or Egypt. They got the citizens, the political parties and authorities to communicate peacefully – this is the equivalent of peace congresses that Nobel referred to in his specifications.
Of course their task isn’t complete, as acknowledged by the President of the Quartet himself (The Guardian), but massive steps have been in the correct direction. In comparison to Syria, Tunisia is heard little about and if anything, in my understanding anyway, the terrorist attacks over the summer were simply proof of Tunisia’s stability – the radical Islamists think Tunisia is too stable and they wanted to damage the successful democratization process.
Tunisia’s National Dialogue Quartet deserve this prize for their work in ensuring Tunisia followed a democratizing path. I don’t think Angela Merkel or Pope Francis, for example, have done anything as tangible as the Quartet for peace in the past few years.