Tunisian Quartet receives Nobel Peace Prize

Friday 18/12/2015
Chair of the Nobel Committee, Kaci Kullmann Five (L) hands over the Diploma and medallion to the winners of the 2015 Nobel Prize, Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet members, (L-R) Secretary-General of the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) Houcine Abass

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.