Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Ethiopian PM for efforts to promote peace & international cooperation
by Norwegian Nobel Committee
Oslo, 11 Oct. 2019
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2019 to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali for his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea. The prize is also meant to recognise all the stakeholders working for peace and reconciliation in Ethiopia and in the East and Northeast African regions.
When Abiy Ahmed became Prime Minister in April 2018, he made it clear that he wished to resume peace talks with Eritrea. In close cooperation with Isaias Afwerki, the President of Eritrea, Abiy Ahmed quickly worked out the principles of a peace agreement to end the long “no peace, no war” stalemate between the two countries.
These principles are set out in the declarations that Prime Minister Abiy and President Afwerki signed in Asmara and Jeddah last July and September. An important premise for the breakthrough was Abiy Ahmed’s unconditional willingness to accept the arbitration ruling of an international boundary commission in 2002.
Peace does not arise from the actions of one party alone. When Prime Minister Abiy reached out his hand, President Afwerki grasped it, and helped to formalise the peace process between the two countries. The Norwegian Nobel Committee hopes the peace agreement will help to bring about positive change for the entire populations of Ethiopia and Eritrea.
In Ethiopia, even if much work remains, Abiy Ahmed has initiated important reforms that give many citizens hope for a better life and a brighter future. He spent his first 100 days as Prime Minister lifting the country’s state of emergency, granting amnesty to thousands of political prisoners, discontinuing media censorship, legalising outlawed opposition groups, dismissing military and civilian leaders who were suspected of corruption, and significantly increasing the influence of women in Ethiopian political and community life. He has also pledged to strengthen democracy by holding free and fair elections.
In the wake of the peace process with Eritrea, Prime Minister Abiy has engaged in other peace and reconciliation processes in East and Northeast Africa. In September 2018 he and his government contributed actively to the normalisation of diplomatic relations between Eritrea and Djibouti after many years of political hostility.
Additionally, Abiy Ahmed has sought to mediate between Kenya and Somalia in their protracted conflict over rights to a disputed marine area. There is now hope for a resolution to this conflict.
In Sudan, the military regime and the opposition have returned to the negotiating table. On the 17th of August, they released a joint draft of a new constitution intended to secure a peaceful transition to civil rule in the country. Prime Minister Abiy played a key role in the process that led to the agreement.
Ethiopia is a country of many different languages and peoples. Lately, old ethnic rivalries have flared up. According to international observers, up to three million Ethiopians may be internally displaced. That is in addition to the million or so refugees and asylum seekers from neighbouring countries.
As Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed has sought to promote reconciliation, solidarity and social justice. However, many challenges remain unresolved. Ethnic strife continues to escalate, and we have seen troubling examples of this in recent weeks and months.
No doubt some people will think this year’s prize is being awarded too early. The Norwegian Nobel Committee believes it is now that Abiy Ahmed’s efforts deserve recognition and need encouragement.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee hopes that the Nobel Peace Prize will strengthen Prime Minister Abiy in his important work for peace and reconciliation. Ethiopia is Africa’s second most populous country and has East Africa’s largest economy. A peaceful, stable and successful Ethiopia will have many positive side-effects, and will help to strengthen fraternity among nations and peoples in the region.
With the provisions of Alfred Nobel’s will firmly in mind, the Norwegian Nobel Committee sees Abiy Ahmed as the person who in the preceding year has done the most to deserve the Nobel Peace Prize for 2019.
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The United Nations Charter sends a clear message to us all: put people first
by António Guterres
The United Nations Charter sends a clear message to us all: put people first. The first words of the Charter — “we the peoples” — are a summons to place people at the centre of our work. Every day. Everywhere. People with rights.
Those rights are not a favour to be rewarded or withheld. They are an endowment for simply being human. Across the first half of my mandate, I have had the good fortune to meet people around the world, where they live and work and dream. And I have listened.
I have heard families in the South Pacific who fear their lives being swept away by rising seas; young refugees in the Middle East yearning for a return to school and home; Ebola survivors in North Kivu struggling to rebuild their lives; women demanding equality and opportunity; people of all beliefs and traditions who suffer simply because of who they are; and so many others.
We are living in a world of disquiet. A great many people fear getting trampled, thwarted, left behind. Machines take their jobs. Traffickers take their dignity. Demagogues take their rights. Warlords take their lives. Fossil fuels take their future.
And yet people believe in the spirit and ideas of the United Nations. But do they believe in us? Do they believe as leaders, we will put people first? Because we, the leaders, must deliver for we the peoples.
People have a right to live in peace. Against the expectations of many, elections unfolded peacefully in Madagascar, Maldives, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to name just a few.
Greece and the Republic of North Macedonia resolved their decades-long name dispute. Political dialogue in Sudan and the peace process in the Central African Republic have brought renewed hope.
Across the global landscape, we see conflicts persisting and the risk of a new arms race growing. So many situations remain unresolved, from Yemen to Libya to Afghanistan and beyond.
A succession of unilateral actions threatens to torpedo a two-State solution between Israel and Palestine. In Venezuela, 4 million people have fled the country — one of the largest displacements in the world.
Tensions are elevated in South Asia, where differences need to be addressed through dialogue. And above all, we are facing the alarming possibility of armed conflict in the Gulf, the consequences of which the world cannot afford.
In a context where a minor miscalculation can lead to a major confrontation, we must do everything possible to push for reason and restraint. I hope for a future in which all the countries of the region can live in a state of mutual respect and cooperation, without interference in each other’s affairs.
And I hope equally that it will be possible to preserve the progress on nuclear non-proliferation represented by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
From day one, I have emphasized prevention, mediation and a surge in diplomacy for peace to address the crises we face. Consider the lives we can save by intensifying our investments to sustain peace around the world. Across some of the most troubled corners of the world, some 100,000 United Nations peacekeepers protect civilians and promote peace.
I am also proud of the work of humanitarians easing suffering around the world. Fully half of all international relief aid is channelled through the United Nations — ensuring that millions receive protection, food, medicine, shelter, water and other life-saving forms of assistance.
People have a right to security in all its dimensions. Every measure to uphold human rights helps deliver sustainable development and peace.
In the twenty-first century, we must see human rights with a vision that speaks to each and every human being and encompasses all rights: economic, social, cultural, political and civil. It would be a mistake to ignore or diminish economic, social and cultural rights.
But it would be equally misguided to think that those rights are enough to answer people’s yearnings for freedom. Human rights are universal and indivisible. One cannot pick and choose, favouring some while disdaining others.
People have a right to well-being and dignified standards of life, with health, housing and food; social protection and a sustainable environment; education — not only to learn things but to learn how to learn and prepare for the future; and decent jobs, especially for young people.
These rights permeate the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. And they are among our best tools for preventing conflict. Yet we are not on track. Inequality is exploding. Our global economy generates great flows of income, but this prosperity is captured by a small number of elites.
It is a sad fact of our world today that one’s chances of leading a life free of want and in full human dignity still depend more on the circumstances of one’s birth than one’s innate capacities.
As was emphasized at yesterday’s Climate Action Summit, the climate emergency is a race we are losing – but it is a race we can win if we change our ways now.
Even our language has to adapt: what once was called “climate change” is now truly a “climate crisis”. And what was once called “global warming” has more accurately become “global heating”.
We are seeing unprecedented temperatures, unrelenting storms and undeniable science. Ten days ago, in the Bahamas, I saw the ruin caused by Hurricane Dorian. That aftermath is a mere prelude to what science tells us is on its way.
But something else is on its way: solutions. The world is starting to move — not yet fast enough but move in the right direction — away from fossil fuels and towards the opportunities of a green economy.
The Climate Summit highlighted some of the solutions we need to scale up in order to dramatically reduce emissions, keep temperature rise to 1.5°C and reach carbon neutrality by 2050. But we are not yet there. We must build on this momentum and do much more to be able to defeat climate change.
People have a right to the fundamental freedoms that every country has promised to uphold. Yet today, we are at a critical juncture where advances made across the decades are being restricted and reversed, misinterpreted and mistrusted.
We see wide-ranging impunity, including for violations of international humanitarian law. New forms of authoritarianism are flourishing. Civic space is narrowing. Environmental activists, human rights defenders, journalists and others are being targeted.
And surveillance systems expand their reach day by day, click by click, camera by camera, encroaching on privacy and personal lives. These breaches go beyond the breakdown in rules governing the behaviour of States and businesses. They are also playing out at a deeper level, shredding the fabric of our common humanity.
At a time when record numbers of refugees and internally displaced people are on the move, solidarity is on the run. We see not only borders, but hearts, closing — as refugee families are torn apart and the right to seek asylum torn asunder.
We must re-establish the integrity of the international refugee protection regime and fulfil the promises of responsibility-sharing set out in the Global Compact on Refugees.
We must also build on the landmark adoption of the first-ever Global Compact on Migration last December. That means strengthening international cooperation for safe, orderly and regular migration and countering the smugglers and criminals who enrich themselves on the backs of vulnerable people. All migrants must see their human rights respected.
Around the world, alienation and distrust are being weaponized. Fear is today’s best-selling brand.. We must tackle hate speech and religious, ethnic and other minorities must fully enjoy their human rights.
That requires a strong investment in social cohesion to ensure diverse communities feel that their identities are respected and that they have a stake in society as a whole.
To those who insist on oppression or division, I say: diversity is a richness, never a threat.
It is unacceptable in the twenty-first century for women and men to be persecuted because of their identity, belief or sexual orientation. We must also secure the rights of vulnerable and marginalized people.
And, of course, the world’s most pervasive manifestation of discrimination affects fully half of humankind: women and girls. Let us never forget gender equality is a question of power.
And power still lies overwhelmingly with men — as we see from parliaments to boardrooms, and even this week in the halls, corridors and meeting rooms of the United Nations. We must shift the balance to truly see women’s rights and representation as our common goal.
At present trends, it will take two centuries to close the gap in economic empowerment. We cannot accept such a world.
In an ever more divided world, we need a strong United Nations. We are here to advance the common good while upholding our shared humanity and values. At a time of division, let us restore trust, rebuild hope and move ahead, together.
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