The Nobel Peace Prize 2015 was awarded to 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 Norwegian Nobel Committee decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2015 is to be awarded 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 when the democratization process was in danger of collapsing as a result of political assassinations and widespread social unrest. “It established an alternative, peaceful political process at a time when the country was on the brink of civil war. It was thus instrumental in enabling Tunisia, in the space of a few years, to establish a constitutional system of government guaranteeing fundamental rights for the entire population, irrespective of gender, political conviction or religious belief,” stated the Nobel comittee in their release following the announcement of the 2015 laureates.
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). These organizations represent different sectors and values in Tunisian society: working life and welfare, principles of the rule of law and human rights. On this basis, the Quartet exercised its role as a mediator and driving force to advance peaceful democratic development in Tunisia with great moral authority.
Who are they?
The Tunisian national dialogue quartet is a coalition of civil society groups that came together in the summer of 2013 when Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab spring, was at a crossroads between democracy and violence. The Islamist party Ennahda and its allies, who had won elections after the Jasmine revolution and the fall of the dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, were filling the state machine with unqualified loyalists and trying to force through a constitution that made Islam the state religion and imposed new limits on free expression and assembly.
Opposition politicians walked out of parliament in protest, and there were clashes on the streets. At the same time in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood government had been deposed in a coup and its supporters were being killed in Cairo. Tunisians feared a similar descent into violence, and those fears were heightened by the appearance of small, extreme Salafist groups.
The long-established workers’ federation, the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT), took the lead in creating a civil society alliance and set out looking for partners. Its leader, Houcine Abbassi, convinced the union’s historic adversary, the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts (UTICA), to join forces.
Two other well-established and respected groups – the Tunisian Human Rights League (LTDH), and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers – joined as well.
The ceremony takes place today in Oslo City Hall.
The Nobel Peace Prize
On 27 November 1895, Alfred Nobel signed his last will and testament, giving the largest share of his fortune to a series of prizes, the Nobel Prizes. As described in Nobel’s will, one part was dedicated to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses”.