Colombian president Santos awarded Nobel Peace Prize

Juan Manuel Santos, president of Colombia, at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit in Manila, Philippines, on Nov. 16, 2015. 

BRUSSELS — Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for his efforts to bring peace to his nation.

The award was announced by Kaci Kullmann Five, a Norwegian politician who is chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

Other top contenders this year had been the negotiators of the Iran nuclear deal, the Syrian activists who rescue bombing victims, and Svetlana Gannushkina, a fierce advocate for migrants’ rights in Russia.

The award comes despite the shock referendum this weekend in which voters narrowly rejected the reconciliation deal with the leftist militia that has battled the government for more than 50 years.

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The award comes at a particularly fraught time for peace around the world. Efforts to impose a cease-fire in the grinding conflict in Syria have collapsed amid the worst violence in the five-year war. Colombia faces uncertain prospects as leaders regroup following the rejection of the peace deal.

Europe, which threw open its doors to refugees last year, has now sealed its borders following a voter backlash. It just inked a controversial deal with war-torn Afghanistan to send back an unlimited number of deportees.

Last year’s Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to an alliance of Tunisian workers, lawyers, employers and activists that helped preserve democracy in the country that gave birth to the Arab Spring. The award to the so-called Quartet was meant to honor Tunisia’s major steps toward democratic rule while also encouraging it to go farther as the other nations that took part in the Arab Spring have struggled under the weight of violence, coups and dashed dreams.

The prize, which was first awarded in 1901, is the most prestigious of the series of awards endowed by the Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel.