Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Friday won the Nobel Peace Prize for efforts to forge an agreement with FARC rebels to end the country’s 52-year civil war.
Just last Sunday, Colombians rejected that landmark deal, sending it back to the drawing table.
In awarding the prize, the Nobel committee praised Santos’ efforts toward peace and said the recognition was also a tribute to the Colombian people who “have not given up hope of a just peace.”
The “no” vote on the Colombian accord “does not necessarily mean that the peace process is dead,” but it was merely a rejection of a specific peace agreement, said Norwegian Nobel Committee Chairwoman Kaci Kullmann Five.
The conflict between the government and Marxist rebels, also known as the FARC or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, has left 220,000 people dead and displaced millions. Many Colombians who voted against the agreement thought it was too lenient on those who committed war crimes.
In an interview with PBS NewsHour co-anchor Judy Woodruff in February, Santos spoke of the long-term process of reintegrating former paramilitaries and guerrillas into society, and the need to retrain and reeducate children who were born in the rebel camps. “It’s cumbersome. It’s difficult but it’s necessary,” he said.
You can watch their full interview here:
Both he and the Nobel committee said only after the peace and reconciliation process gets underway will the country be able to address the challenges of poverty, social injustice and drug-related crimes.
“The committee hopes that the peace prize will give [Santos] strength to succeed in this demanding task,” Five said.