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Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos

Posted at 5:32 AM, Oct 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-07 09:12:19-04

The 2016 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos for his efforts to end Colombia’s long-running civil war with the FARC guerrilla group.

The committee awarded Santos the prize for “his resolute efforts to bring the country’s more than 50-year-long civil war to an end, a war that has cost the lives of at least 220 000 Colombians and displaced close to six million people.”

“The award should also be seen as a tribute to the Colombian people who, despite great hardships and abuses, have not given up hope of a just peace, and to all the parties who have contributed to the peace process. This tribute is paid, not least, to the representatives of the countless victims of the civil war.”

Referendum ‘not what Santos wanted’

Santos’ government spent four years negotiating a peace deal with the former rebel group FARC that would have ended five decades of war.

But Colombians narrowly rejected the peace deal in a referendum last weekend. Critics of the deal said it didn’t do enough to punish the rebels. It was a major blow for Santos, whose popularity has suffered in his support of the deal.

Now it seems the rebels and the Colombian government, facilitated by international leaders, will have to go back to the drawing board to reimagine a peace that is acceptable to victims of murder, extortion and kidnapping.

“Well knowing that the accord was controversial, he was instrumental in ensuring that Colombian voters were able to voice their opinion concerning the peace accord in a referendum,” said the Nobel Committee.

Who are FARC?

Who else was in the running?

The names of nominees are kept secret for 50 years.

However that doesn’t stop people making their nominations public, and some of this year’s rumored nominees were Syria’s search and rescue group the White Helmets, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Pope Francis and Greek Islanders.

This year there were 376 candidates for the peace prize, the highest number ever.

The person doing the nominating has to be either a government official, a member of the international court, a university professor, a past laureate or a former or present member of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

And no, you cannot nominate yourself.

Remind me who won last year again?

Many had placed their bets on Pope Francis or German Chancellor Angela Merkel scooping the 2015 prize.

But in the end, the award went to the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet — a group dedicated to fostering dialogue between disparate parts of Tunisian society, particularly in the wake of the 2011 Jasmine Revolution.

Controversial winners

Many were shocked at the speed with which US President Barack Obama won the prize in 2009 — less than a year after taking office, and with the deadline for nominations just 12 days after he became leader.

“He hasn’t had time to do anything yet,” said 1983 winner — anti-communist Polish leader Lech Walsea.

Meanwhile, 2001 laureate and former UN secretary general Kofi Annan called the choice “unexpected but inspired.”

One Nobel Committee member resigned in protest when Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres jointly won the award in 1994 for their roles in negotiations that culminated in the Oslo Accords.

Two other committee members also quit for the first time in the prize’s history, after US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Vietnamese revolutionary Gen. Le Duc Tho won in 1973 for negotiating a ceasefire (which turned out to be short-lived) in the Vietnam War.

However Le Duc Tho turned down the award — the only peace prize winner ever to do so.

Youngest winner

Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzay was 17 years old when she won the award in 2014, alongside Indian activist Kailash Satyarthi, for their work promoting children’s education.

Yousafzai came to global attention after she was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 for her efforts to promote girls’ education in Pakistan.

She is one of just 16 women to win the Nobel Peace prize — out of a total 103 past winners.

That time Hitler was nominated

Yes, that’s right, the same Adolf Hitler behind the Holocaust was also nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1939 by a member of the Swedish parliament, E. G. C. Brandt.

But Brandt never intended the nomination to be taken seriously, according to the Nobel Foundation.

“He was to all intents and purposes a dedicated antifascist, and had intended this nomination more as a satiric criticism of the current political debate in Sweden,” said the Foundation.