Nobel Prize is only the start

The peace prize acknowledges Tunisia’s recent successes but more work is required

The president of the Tunisian Employers' Union Wided Bouchamaoui and lawyer Fadhel Mahfoudh are two of the four winners of the Nobel prize in Tunisia. Fethi Belaid / AFP
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The Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet for its contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy may have been unexpected but does reflect an incredible achievement for Tunisian civil society and should be a celebrated for showing how far the country has come since the 2011 revolution.

Almost five years after Tunisia was the site of the first of the Arab Spring’s uprisings, this peace prize is a sign that the work to establish an inclusive and robust democracy has only just begun after decades of dictatorship.

Tunisia still faces many challenges: unemployment, social in­equality, a devastated tourism industry, extremist threats and the volatility of its neighbours. As such, the Nobel Peace Prize ought to be perceived by Tunisians as a form of encouragement to continue establishing a lasting democracy. With such a framework in place at the heart of the Arab world, Tunisia can serve as an example to be followed by other countries in the region such as Libya.

For many outside the country, the National Dialogue Quartet is a little known organisation. It is actually made up of not one but four key organisations that form the backbone of Tunisian civil society: the Tunisian General Labour Union, the Tunisian Human Rights League, the Tunisian Order of Lawyers and the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts.

Above all else, this is a victory not only for Tunisia but for the Arab world. It is a recognition that the great ideals of the Arab Spring are still alive in the movement’s birth place. The prize is also a reminder that creation of a strong democratic process and the reconciliation that must accompany it is an evolving process.

While the Arab Spring has left much chaos and destruction in countries such as Syria and Libya – and sometimes Tunisia seemed like it might also be on that course – the country is now a fledging democracy. The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet is proof that international community has recognised this considerable achievement of dialogue and compromise over violence and sectarianism.