The Colombian President was awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for his efforts to end 52 years of conflict of the longest-running war in the Americas, which was just five days after Colombians rejected the agreement with a rebel group in an appalling referendum result.
Santos had been an early favorite to win the prize, however, a referendum on a landmark peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia, or FARC, was narrowly defeated in a referendum last weekend.
The peace agreement was thrown into doubt by the referendum result on Sunday, which analysts said reflected a widespread belief that the FARC was getting too much praise and too easy terms for its willingness to put down its arms after decades of violence.
“Striking a balance between the need for national reconciliation and ensuring justice for the victims will be a particularly difficult challenge. There are no simple answers to how this should be accomplished,” said the statement. “The referendum was not a vote for or against peace,” it said. “What the ‘No’ side rejected was not the desire for peace, but a specific peace agreement.”
Despite the setback, the Norwegian Nobel Committee recognized Mr. Santos “for his resolute efforts to bring the country’s more than 50-year-long civil war to an end.”
In announcing the award, Kaci Kullmann Five, the chairwoman of the committee said, “The committee hopes that the peace prize will give him strength to succeed in this demanding task,” she said. “Further, it is the committee’s hope that in the years to come, the Colombian people will reap the fruits of the reconciliation process.” Then she continued “are strong reasons to put a light on the president himself,” and that “his role as president” and “the keeper of the process” had been instrumental is securing a deal.
A record 376 candidates were nominated for this year’s award. Last year’s peace prize went to Tunisia’s National Dialogue Quartet for its efforts to build a pluralistic democracy.