Tunisian Quartet receives Nobel Peace Prize
Tunis - Leaders of Tunisian civic groups called on the world community to join forces to fight terrorism as they accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in Norway.
Members of the National Dialogue Quartet also urged world powers to help resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as part of efforts to dampen hotbeds of violence in the Middle East and North Africa.
The Tunisian civil society group was awarded the Peace Prize for facilitating agreement between Tunisian political protagonists in 2013, at a time when extreme polarisation posed a serious threat to the North African country’s democratic transition.
The Quartet includes the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT), the Tunisian Union for Industry, Trade and Handicrafts (UTICA), the Tunisian Human Rights League (LTDH) and the Tunisian Bar Association.
The laureates are the first Tunisians to win a Nobel prize.
The award ceremony took place December 10th in Oslo amid tight security following the November 13th jihadist attacks in Paris, in which 130 people were killed, and a suicide attack in Tunis where 12 security officers died.
“Today we are most in need of making the fight against terrorism an absolute priority, which means perseverance on coordination and cooperation between all nations to drain its resources,” UGTT Secretary-General Houcine Abassi told the gathering in Oslo.
“We need to accelerate the elimination of hot spots all over the world, particularly the resolution of the Palestinian issue and enable the Palestinian people the right to self-determination on their land and build their independent state.”
Fear of jihadist violence loomed large over the banquets and concerts attended by hundreds of political, intellectual and business leaders during the lavish Nobel ceremonies in Oslo and Stockholm.
The Quartet received the Nobel Peace Prize for the crucial role it played in pushing Tunisian political actors to stay on the track of peaceful transition in a region wrestling with violence and upheaval.
Norwegian Nobel Committee Chairwoman Kaci Kullmann Five praised the group for “its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy” in 2013.
“Against a backdrop of unrest and war… (their) resolute intervention helped to halt the spiralling violence and put developments on a peaceful track,” she said.
Success of the National Dialogue facilitated by the Quartet led to the formation of a “technocratic government”, which laid the ground for the organisation of successful legislative and presidential elections in 2014. Since then, however, the country has been plagued with terror incidents and a serious economic slowdown.
In March, Islamist gunmen killed 21 tourists in an attack at the Bardo National Museum in Tunis, and 38 foreigners lost their lives in an assault on a Sousse beach hotel in June. On November 24th, a suicide bomber set off a device on a bus carrying presidential guards in Tunis, killing 12 members of the elite force.
“In this time of terror, the threats against Tunisia and the Tunisian people are indistinguishable from the threats against other countries,” UTICA Chairwoman Wided Bouchamaoui said in her speech.
The other heads of Tunisian civil society groups who shared the Peace Prize were Mohamed Fadhel Mahfoudh, head of the Tunisian Bar Association, and Abdessattar Ben Moussa, president of the Tunisian Human Rights League.
The 2015 Nobel Prize winners in literature, chemistry, physics, medicine and economics gathered in Stockholm to collect their prizes from King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden the same day.