Dharamshala — The 2015 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded Friday to "Tunisia's National Dialogue Quartet" (TNDQ) for its contribution to the promoting of human rights, peace and democracy following the country's 2011 movements sparked admiration across the Arab world.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee praised the group "for its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution of 2011."
"It established an alternative, peaceful political process at a time when the country was on the brink of civil war," the committee said.
The TNDQ is made up of four organizations: the Tunisian General Labour Union; Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts; Tunisian Human Rights League; and Tunisian Order of Lawyers.
"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," the committee stated.
"The Arab Spring originated in Tunisia in 2010-2011, but quickly spread to a number of countries in North Africa and the Middle East. In many of these countries, the struggle for democracy and fundamental rights has come to a standstill or suffered setbacks. Tunisia, however, has seen a democratic transition based on a vibrant civil society with demands for respect for basic human rights."
The Tunisian revolution, which forced the country's long-time president to step down, led to uprisings against dictators in other nations including Egypt, Libya and Syria in what became known as the Arab Spring.
Today, Tunisia is the only country in the region to make genuine progress transitioning to a democracy. Egypt's military overthrew its first democratically elected president in 2013, Syria is in the midst of a bloody 4-year-old civil war that has given rise to the Islamic State and Libya's ouster of long-time dictator Moammar Gadhafi has been followed by years of political chaos, as competing militias fight for power.
"More than anything, the prize is intended as an encouragement to the Tunisian people, who despite major challenges have laid the groundwork for a national fraternity which the committee hopes will serve as an example to be followed by other countries,"the Committee Chairwoman Kaci Kullmann Five said.
She said that the 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."
Tunisia still faces political problems, however. Two attacks by Islamic extremists this year killed 60 people and devastated the country's vital tourism industry. Critics also complain that the new government is trampling on the civil liberties of its citizens.
The peace prize is awarded by a committee of five chosen by Norway's parliament. Last year, the prize was awarded to India's Kailash Satyarthi and Pakistan's Malala Yousafzai.