The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2015 will be given to the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet for its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution of 2011.
The Quartet was formed in the summer of 2013 to save democracy from collapse due to political assassinations and social unrest as an alternative to an imminent civil war. It has enabled Tunisia to set up a constitutional system guaranteeing fundamental rights for all.
The National Dialogue Quartet has comprised four key organizations in Tunisian civil society: the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT, Union Générale Tunisienne du Travail), the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts (UTICA, Union Tunisienne de l’Industrie, du Commerce et de l’Artisanat), the Tunisian Human Rights League (LTDH, La Ligue Tunisienne pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme), and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers (Ordre National des Avocats de Tunisie).
Representing different sectors and values in Tunisian society, these organizations worked for welfare, to uphold the rule of law and human rights. As such it played a role of a mediator to advance peaceful democratic development in Tunisia with great moral authority. “The Nobel Peace Prize for 2015 is awarded to this Quartet, not to the four individual organizations as such,” said the Nobel Peace Prize Committee in a statement.
Otherwise, the Arab Spring originated in Tunisia in 2010-2011, but quickly spread to a number of countries in North Africa and the Middle East. In many of these countries, the struggle has either come to a standstill or suffered setbacks. Tunisia, however, has seen a democratic transition based on a vibrant civil society, said the statement.
The course of events since the fall of the authoritarian Ben Ali regime in January 2011 is unique and remarkable for several reasons. Firstly, it shows that Islamist and secular political movements can work together to achieve significant results in the country’s best interests. The example of Tunisia thus underscores the value of dialogue and a sense of national belonging in a region marked by conflict.
Secondly, the transition in Tunisia shows that civil society institutions and organizations can play a crucial role in a country’s democratization, and that such a process, even under difficult circumstances, can lead to free elections and the peaceful transfer of power. The National Dialogue Quartet must be given much of the credit for this achievement and for ensuring that the benefits of the Jasmine Revolution have not been lost.
“Tunisia faces significant political, economic and security challenges. The Norwegian Nobel Committee hopes that this year’s prize will contribute towards safeguarding democracy in Tunisia and be an inspiration to all those who seek to promote peace and democracy in the Middle East, North Africa and the rest of the world,” said the committee.