Nobel Peace Prize for Colombian president seen as a spur to peace process

(Photo: © Cesar Carrion / SIG)World Council of Churches general secretary, Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, meets Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos in September 2015. © Cesar Carrion/SIG

Efforts at achieving peace in Colombia, in which churches have played a key role, came into sh

on the prize Oct. 7 for pursuing a deal to end 52 years of conflict with a leftist rebel group, the longest-running war in the Americas, just five days after Colombians rejected the agreement in a shocking referendum result.

"The Nobel Peace Prize awarded today to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos is a sign of hope and encouragement on the path to peace, and towards the end of the 52-year-long conflict", said Peter Prove, a senior director of the World Council of Churches.

The decision to give the prize to Santos, may revive hopes for the agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, with whom the country has been waging the last major guerrilla struggle in Latin America, The New York Times reported.

Prove, the director of the WCC's Commission of the Churches on International Affair, said "The award is a reminder that the only path forward is towards peace, and encourages renewed efforts in that direction despite the apparent setback of the plebiscite outcome."

"The World Council of Churches reaffirms its commitment to support the peace process and the role of the churches in Colombia in their work for sustainable peace and justice," said Prove

The Nobel Committee said Santos had brought one of the longest civil wars in modern history significantly closer to a peaceful solution but there is still a real danger the peace process could come to a halt and that war could flare again.


Santos has promised to revive the peace plan despite the outcome of the referendum and said the Nobel Peace Prize award was "of invaluable importance" to further the peace process, Vatican Radio reported.

Colombia's Catholic Church had played a key role as a mediator between the two sides during the long-running peace negotiations and has been at the forefront of trying to promote reconciliation, said Vatican Radio.

"Peace is not just a ceasefire. Peace is not just the silencing of arms. Peace is education. Peace is figuring out how to coexist and how to build together," by Jani Silva de Rengifo, a board member of CONPAZ (Communities Building Peace in the Territories) and peasant farmer in Puntomayo, Colombia, had said Aug. 18.

de Rengifo was speaking at an event titled "Building a Just and Sustainable Peace Process in Colombia," held at the Church Center for the United Nations in New York and co-organized by the WCC with Caritas Internationalis.

The Nobel Peace Prize is worth 8 million Swedish crowns ($930,000) and will be presented in Oslo on Dec. 10.

The last Latin American to receive the peace prize was indigenous rights campaigner Rigoberta Menchu of Guatemala who won it in 1992, and is the second Colombian after writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who won the literature prize in 1982. Santos is the is the second Colombian to win a Nobel prize after writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who won the literature prize in 1982.

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