The Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its role in helping the country’s transition to democracy.
Announcing the award, the Nobel panel said the group made a decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution of 2011.
They were among some 273 contenders for the prestigious prize. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Pope Francis were among those tipped.
The panel added that they hoped the award would act as an encouragement to other countries to follow in Tunisia’s footsteps. “The Norwegian Nobel Committee hopes that this year’s prize will contribute towards safeguarding democracy in Tunisia and be an inspiration to all those who seek to promote peace and democracy in the Middle East, North Africa and the rest of the world,” it said.
The National Dialogue Quartet comprises of four key organisations in Tunisian civil society: the Tunisian General Labour Union, the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts, the Tunisian Human Rights League, and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers.
The panel added that the Quartet was formed in the summer of 2013 when the democratisation 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.
The laureates will receive their prizes at a ceremony in Oslo on December 10, the anniversary of the 1896 death of prize creator Alfred Nobel, a Swedish philanthropist and scientist.
Image: A protester agitating during the Jasmine Revolution in Tunis, Tunisia in 2011. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images