Tunisian national dialogue quartet win Nobel Peace Prize

Group cited for its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia in the wake of Jasmine Revolution of 2011

A photo from September 2013 showing members of the Tunisian national dialogue quartet.Image Credit: Fethi Belaid/AFP


The Alfred Nobel peace prize

Oslo, Norway: The National Dialogue Quartet in Tunisia won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.The Nobel jury has cited the peace-prize winning group for “its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution of 2011.”According to the committee, the dialogue quartet – composed of four organisations in Tunisian civil society, including a workers union and employers’ group – paved the way for broad-based national dialogue between citizens, civil society and helped find consensus for a peaceful transition to democracy in the cradle of the Arab Spring.

UGTT Tunisia national dialogue quartet
A combo of recent file pictures shows (L to R) Secretary General of the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) Houcine Abbassi; President of the Tunisian employers union (UTICA) Wided Bouchamaoui; President of the Tunisian Human Rights League (LTDH), Abdessattar ben Moussa and Tunisian lawyer Fadhel Mahfoudh. Tunisian mediators of the so-called National Dialogue Quartet (Tunisian General Labour Union UGTT, Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts UTICA, Tunisian Human Rights League LTDH and Tunisian Order of Lawyers) won the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize, the Norwegian Nobel Commitee announced on October 9, 2015.

This year, there were 273 candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize — 68 organizations and 205 individuals. It was the second-highest number of candidates ever. The record, 278 candidates, was set in 2014.

Tunisian quartet
This file photo taken in 2013, shows leaders of the Tunisian national dialogue quartet, a coalition of civil society organisations. The quartet has won the 2015 Nobel peace prize. – AFP

Unique, remarkable role

The Nobel committee said the quartet played a “unique and remarkable” role in creating functioning peace congresses that led to Tunisia’s transition to democracy.

The quartet also showed that Islamist and secular political movements can work together and deliver the greater good that the Tunisian society sought.

In choosing the quartet, the Nobel committee placed emphasis on the value of dialog and a sense of national belonging to solve conflicts.

The UGTT was nominated for its role in Tunisia’s democratic transition, brokering political negotiations that resulted in a post-revolution Constitution being ratified.

UGTT’S role cited

Tunisia’s general labour union (Union Generale des Travailleurs Tunisiens, or UGTT) was already a candidate for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, following its nomination by four Tunisian universities.

The workers’ union headed a quartet which brought together the employers’ organisation, the Tunisian Bar Association and the Tunisian Human Rights League (LTDH) in the dialogue following the Jasmine revolution in 2011.

Through the union’s leadership, it managed to save the country from the threat of internal division — thereby ushering in a consensus-based government and renewing the nation’s hope of a peaceful transition to democracy.

UGTT was founded in 1946, and played a big part in the 2011 Tunisian revolution and, more recently, its key contribution to the transition process in Tunisia.

The award pays tribute to the trade union movement for its role in promoting peace and progress around the world.

In 1983, UGTT was awarded the prize to Solidarity leader Lech Walesa.

In December 2013, governments across the world welcomed the national consensus reached in Tunisia, which, just weeks later, was to lead to the adoption of a
new Constitution approved by all the country’s political parties.

All around the world, UGTT’s patience and perseverance were lauded for having initiated and mediated the dialogue between antagonistic ideological blocs and having ensured a successful outcome.

Until that point, it was never thought dialogue alone could result in an agreement between the partisans of political Islam and those of a secular state.

The quartet has been recognised for helping manage opposing views enough to agree on the same constitutional text — the first in the Arab and Muslim world.

UN welcomes Nobel Peace Prize

In Geneva, the United Nations on Friday welcomed the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet as a boost to activists driving peace efforts.

Ahmad Fawzi, chief U.N. spokesman in Geneva, told a news briefing: “We need civilian society to help us move peace processes forward.

“This a brilliant example, I think Tunisia is one of the/sArab countries that has done best since the so-called Arab Spring and the upheavals in that part of the world.”


Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom has congratulated the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet for winning the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize and says the prize is well-deserved.

Wallstrom told Sweden’s state broadcaster SVT “it is a long and difficult process to achieve democratic reforms in a country that has been subjected to such a difficult situation, but it (Tunisia) has done everything right and it has been done with active support from civil society.”

She calls Tunisia “one of few examples of success” following the Arab spring uprisings and says she hopes the prize will help inspire other countries that are struggling to reform.

She particularly praised the country’s establishment of a new constitution that was anchored among women and young people and its attempts to establish consensus between different parties.

11:30 am

A Tunisian union leader who played a key role in democracy-building that won the Nobel Peace Prize says he’s “overwhelmed” by the gesture.
Houcine Abassi, secretary general of the UGTT union, told The Associated Press on Friday, “It’s a prize that crowns more than two years of efforts deployed by the quartet when the country was in danger on all fronts.”

“I am happy,” he said, adding that the quartet members weren’t expecting the prize.
He described how the UGTT, a human rights group, a trade group and a lawyers group joined together to try to “bring the country out of crisis.”

11:15 am

Tunisian protesters sparked uprising across the Arab world in 2011 that overthrew dictators and upset the status quo. Tunisia is the only country in the region to painstakingly build a democracy, involving a range of political and social forces in dialogue to create a constitution, legislature and democratic institutions.

While Tunisia has been much less violent than neighboring Libya or Syria, its transition to democracy has been marred by occasional violence, notably from Islamic extremists.

An attack in June on a beach resort in Sousse left 38 dead, mostly British tourists. Another in March killed 22 people at the country’s leading museum, the Bardo in Tunis – also primarily tourists.

The prize comes the day after unidentified assailants shot repeatedly at a lawmaker and prominent sports magnate in Sousse, underscoring a sense of uncertainty in the city, which depends heavily on tourism.

11 am

The Nobel Peace Prize jury says The National Dialogue Quartet in Tunisia has won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

The jury cited the group Friday for “its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution of 2011.”

9:25 a.m.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee is set to announce the 2015 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize amid speculation that the prize could highlight Europe’s migration crisis, peace talks in Colombia or a U.S.-Iran nuclear deal.

The five-member committee has released no hints ahead of the announcement, scheduled for 0900 GMT.

A favourite among those placing bets is German Chancellor Angela Merkel for pledging to keep her country’s borders open to hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing from Syria and other countries.

Others mentioned in the buzz include the Rev. Mussi Zerai, an Eritrean priest who helps coordinate rescue missions for migrants crossing the Mediterranean, and Saudi blogger Raif Badawi.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif could be candidates for their July deal on Iran’s nuclear program, as could Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and rebel leader Rodrigo Londono.