Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has accepted the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in trying to end Colombia's brutal 50-year civil war with Farc paramilitaries. The 65-year-old said at the ceremony in Oslo the prize gave a boost to the "impossible dream" of ending the conflict.
"Ladies and gentlemen, there is one less war in the world, and it is the war in Colombia," Santos said in Oslo's city hall. The civil war is almost at its end after claiming the lives of at least 220, 000 Colombians and displacing close to six million people. The prize givers said that Santos had "consistently sought to move the peace process forward" and although the process was not complete he had promoted "peace thus fulfil the criteria and spirit of Alfred Nobel's will".
Held at Oslo's City Hall on Saturday (10 December), the event was attended by families of those who suffered during the Colombian government's war with the communist paramilitaries. Members of Farc and former Farc prisoners, Ingrid Betancourt and Clara Rojas and the Norwegian royal family were in attendance.
Santos described the award as a "gift from heaven" and dedicated the award to all Colombians, particularly to victims of the conflict. He said: "With this agreement, we can say that the American continent from Alaska to Patagonia is a land in peace".
In September a historic peace deal was signed by Santos and the Marxist rebel leader Rodrigo Londono, known as Timochenko. But in October Colombians narrowly rejected the terms of the deal he had struck with the communist insurgents with many, including former president Alvaro Uribe, feeling the terms were too lenient on the Farc.
The motion was defeated by less than half a percentage point in a national referendum on 2 October, leading to the original plan being revised with 50 changes, although the basis of the deal was kept intact.
A few days later Santos was named peace prize laureate on 7 October and a few weeks later the Colombian government and the Farc signed a revised deal. The deal was ratified on 30 November after a 13-hour debate but no new referendum offered to the nation.
The ratification triggered the start of a six-month process where the Farc's 8,000-plus guerrillas will in 20 rural areas will turn over their weapons to United Nations monitors.
The Nobel Peace Prize comes with a gold medal, a diploma and a check for 8m Swedish kronor (£693,000: $871,000) which Santos has pledged to help the victims of the war.
On his award, he said: "It came like a gift from heaven, because it gave us a tremendous push. People in Colombia interpreted it as a mandate from the international community to persevere, to continue striving to achieve a new peace agreement."
Also on Saturday the recipients of the Nobel prizes for medicine, physics, chemistry and economics are also to receive their awards at a ceremony in the Swedish capital of Stockholm.