The 2016 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded this week to Colombia’s President, Juan Manuel Santos, for his work to end the 52-year guerrilla conflict with the leftist rebel group known as FARC. The warfare has left behind a history of scars and heartache stemming from kidnappings, rape, and drug trafficking. Santos has a long legacy of fighting against the rebels, having organized an intense counter insurgency campaign that greatly weakened the FARC back when he was defense minister, and now as president he as spent the last four years working out peace deals. Leaders of the country and members of the Nobel committee hope that the award will boost opinions about peace talks and will act as a spur for further agreements.
However, the award has also sparked some controversy. Many Colombian citizens feel that the award was too presumptive, especially since the peace deal at the crux of the Nobel Prize was voted down in a country-wide referendum just five days before the award was announced. Opponents argue that Santos hasn’t actually accomplished anything tangible to deserve the prize, even if his intentions are well-rooted. Furthermore, there is some international disappointment that the White Helmets, a volunteer Syrian search-and-rescue organization, did not win the award and $1 million prize.
The ordeal raises some questions about the Nobel Prize committee – Is the committee too political? Is it meddling in affairs that it has no business in? Should people and organizations be awarded simply on their intent?