Newspaper article International New York Times

A Nobel Peace Prize for Dialogue

Newspaper article International New York Times

A Nobel Peace Prize for Dialogue

Article excerpt

A coalition that preserved Tunisia's hope for democracy is honored.

The award of this year's Nobel Peace Prize is, alas, as much a eulogy as an accolade. Certainly the Tunisian coalition of labor unions, business, lawyers and human rights activists deserves the award for managing to turn their country's "Jasmine Revolution" away from the brink of civil war and preserving a glimmer of hope for democracy.

But in singling out Tunisia, whose 2011 street rebellion overthrew an entrenched dictatorship and launched the "Arab Spring," the Norwegian Nobel committee also underscored the dismal failure of the uprisings that followed in other Arab states.

For a while, Tunisia had seemed headed for the same fate. An Islamist government elected after the ouster of President Zine el- Abidine Ben Ali tried to push through a repressive constitution; there were street clashes and assassinations. In the summer of 2013, four organizations -- the Tunisian General Labor Union, the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts, the Tunisian Human Rights League and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers -- came together as the National Dialogue Quartet and mediated the formation of an interim government that would lead the country to new elections. …

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