9 Reasons That Nobel Peace Prize to Juan M. Santos Was a Wrong Decision


Johan Galtung – TRANSCEND Media Service

Alfaz, 13 October 2016nobel peace logo

[1]  Only the government side got the prize 7 October, not FARC; the same mistake as the 1971 prize only to Willy Brandt, not also Brezhnev and the 2000 prize to Kim Dae-jung, not also to North Korea.  It takes (at least) two to make a handshake; one hand is only shaking the air.

[2]  The agreement does not include ELN guerrilla and para-militaries, fighting against and for the status quo, with no indication they will continue doing so; possibly filling in for FARC and the government.

[3]  Is the deal symmetric with both sides abstaining from violence, or rather asymmetric, disarming only FARC and bringing demobilized guerrilleros back to “normal” life, not also parts of the army?

[4]  Crimes have been committed by all sides in Colombia–crimes mostly by omission by the government, and crimes of violence by commission by all parties–and justice is now not being served.

[5]  The prize confuses cease-fire with peace, unlike the 1998 prize to Nelson Mandela and Willem de Klerk not only for cease-fire but for solving the underlying conflict of South Africa: equal dignity through democracy, by One Person-One Vote regardless of the skin color.

[6]  The underlying conflict in Colombia is the flagrant inequality between an upper-middle level of white people and a lower level in poverty and misery–including the surviving 3-4% indigenous of the once 100% and the blacks imported as slaves–unsolved by the deal. Much more than land reform is needed for their dignity in a country run by the “poderes fácticos” of landowners, military and clergy.

[7]  Nobel’s will includes understanding among nations; two groups of mainly whites agreeing not to kill each other after negotiations with the victims not directly participating as such do not add up to that.

[8]  Nobel’s will mentions reduction of standing armies; the agreement disarms FARC but not the government whose army is now increasing.

[9]  The Colombia referendum rejected the agreement 50.2-49.8 percent- 38% participation-2 October for the above reasons singly or combined.  Maybe another approach, like lifting the bottom up, is needed?


Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is founder of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment and rector of the TRANSCEND Peace University-TPU. Prof. Galtung has published 1669 articles and book chapters, over 400 Editorials for TRANSCEND Media Service, and 167 books on peace and related issues, of which 41 have been translated into 35 languages, for a total of 135 book translations, including ‘50 Years-100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives,’ published by the TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 17 Oct 2016.

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8 Responses to “9 Reasons That Nobel Peace Prize to Juan M. Santos Was a Wrong Decision”

  1. The Noble man, Prof. Johan Galtung was most deserving candidate for Noble Prize in Peace, but this year we witnessed a dismay, perhaps the un-noble committee had other priorities and it is our collective failure to not give due recognition to people who are really working for peace.

    • Theo Alham says:

      Prof Galtung may have good points and views but his list of why Santos shouldn’t have the pirze may just as well apply to himself…

  2. Gary Corseri says:

    I’m not sure what point Theo Alham is trying to make here. The Nobel Prize is one-sided this year, and it has been in past years, too. It was awarded to Willy Brandt in 1971, but not to Brezhnev, and it was awarded to Kim Dae-jung in 2000, but not to North Korea!

    Well, it takes 2 to tango, and it takes at least 2 parties, at least 2 former combatants/antagonists/enemies to make peace!

    In point #7, Professor Galtung emphasizes the necessity to build “understanding” among nations. That is an essential objective of Alfred Nobel’s will wherein he established the Peace Prize. (Extraordinary to think that Nobel felt so guilty about his inventions and innovations, and the horrible impact they would have on warfare that he bequeathed his fortune to the establishment of a Peace Prize, but, with far more terrible weapons at hand, endangering all life on this planet, and we still struggle against hostile Power Elites and our own fears and ignorance!)

    Through his pioneering work, beginning around 1959, establishing “Peace Studies” programs in universities around the world, Johan Galtung and his students and teachers, and subsequent generations of students and teachers, have influenced millions to think about the philosophy, sociology and economics of peace. Galtung has built upon the work of the amazing Jane Addams in the early 20th Century; and forwarded the spirit of Martin Luther King, as expressed in King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” and his inspired speeches at the Lincoln Memorial, and his personal courage.

    How can we have peace when we have such inequality in the world, such disparities between “classes” of humans–as though the “naked apes” (as Desmond Morris called us) were comprised of entirely different species–from Alpha to Delta as Aldous Huxley imagined–,depending on the accident of birth, or one of those too-often brushed-aside “deadly sins”–greed. And not mere greed, but something repugnant that reduces others to mere cogs in the wheel of acquisitions of wealth and power.

    Frankly, I think Galtung should have won the Nobel years ago. (Perhaps we need to establish an Anti-Nobel Prize these days to wake folks up to the travesty the official prizes have become!) We’d live in a better world if men and women of character were acknowledged for the superb work they have done to help us all to “transcend” to a higher vision, a nobler sense of what it means to be “human” and to be “humane.”

    • Leejah Singh says:

      Dear Mr Corseri,

      I share your question about what Mr Alham means.

      That said I do think that Mr Galtung vastly overshoots the mark with some of his 9 reasons. If nobody should have the Peace Prize without living up to _all_ of the points in the list, then nobody has ever deserved it. Because no one has _ever_ in reality implemented an effective plan that ensured this kind of compliance.

      What should matter – and should be the criteria – is to what extend a pratical solution and effort has addressed the thoughts behing, and objectives in, Nobel’s will. Because that is the only way we in reality will move towards peace.

      And some of the other points are plain (and for Mr Galtung, uncaractaristically) blunt and wrong.

      [2] ELN has already opened up to negotations on the basis of the agreement.

      [4] The agreement is very specific about crimes. What “justice is not being served”? I wouldn’t expect mr Galtung to be vengeful and an agreement such as this _must_ provide a framework for moving on with focus on estabilish peace and truth commissions, _rather_ than resolving everything with punishments. Just as in South Africa. Justice comes through peace mr Galtung. Not through jails or firing squads. To paraphrase Gandhi and Mandela.

      [5] The Colombian agreement is about putting democracy to work with a plural one-man-one-vote is just as formalized, strong and important as the South African counterpart agreement. This agreement is just as ambitions and resolves just as much (or little) as the Mandela-DeKlerk work.

      [7] The Conflict is not only an internal Colombian matter and has never been. Conflicts of this size and scope can only be maintained with the help – and at the cost, loss and tragedies – of other countries. Again – exactly the same as the South African conflict.

  3. Gary Corseri says:

    Leejah Singh,

    Thank you for your comments.

    To be succinct: If one goes about this world looking to find fault, to disparage others’ accomplishments and thoughts, then one will find many faults and much to disparage–even in the best of us.

    In the religions of humankind, we find much wisdom, but also much foolishness. When dialoguing with others, it helps to look for points of agreement, before engaging in a critique of where the others’ arguments do not measure up to one’s own.

    In some of your statements above, I believe you are mis-representing Mr. Galtung’s views. Here, for example: “Justice comes through peace mr Galtung. Not through jails or firing squads. To paraphrase Gandhi and Mandela.” I do not see where Mr. G. is advocating jails and firing squads to resolve conflicts!

    I do like Jesus of Nazareth’s statement when he advised his disciples and followers to be less concerned with the sty or splinter in their neighbor’s eye and worry more about the log in their own.

    • Leejah Singh says:

      Dear Mr Corseri,

      Thanks for your reply and many wise words. I do agree that I had not stated my points of agreement with Mr Galtung and that would have been a good starting point. And I do share his (and yours) critique of the assymetry of this and some of the earlier Peace Prizes.

      But I will maintain my disagreement with Mr Galtung. He himself puts up a list of negatives (with not a _single_ point about agreements, to put your own criteia to use), that fails to do justice to an agreement that is more likely to end this conflict than anything else I have seen. An agreement with a scope, se set of principles and objectives and ambitions for peace that is far beyond anything else on the table anywhere in the world.

      Who and what has could ever lived up to fulfill _all_ the 9 criteria Mr Galtung implicitely sets up? Noone.

      I may misunderstand Mr Galtung’s point [4] but what is his point then? That an agreement as this must address every single point of wrongdoing, or else it is not a worthy agreement??

  4. Leejah Singh says:

    Dear (Mr?) Deldano,

    Frist an apology – I’m not able to reply directly to your post, so excuse me for having to do it here, out of thread (editors: why is this???

    First of all, you are mistaken. I have read Mr Galtung for years and mainly come here to get his views as well as from others that reflect on them. I’m aware of the numerous writings had has authored.

    But at the same time I consider Mr Galtung a human, with all the strengths and weakness’es that include. We all sometimes make mistankes and write or say things that are more rooted in our own limitations, rather than what we would say or put to paper given other circumstances. Mr Galtung is no different here, and no more infallible than any of us. And I consider this article to be a case of this.

    For [2] and [5] see the following:

    [2]: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-37614809 Note the involvment of Norway, Cuba, Chile, Brazil and Ecuador. I’m sure this must have been covered extensively in Mr Galtung’s native Norway??

    [5] (Move FARC and others to the democratic political process):



    And in FARC’s own words as well:


    Regarding [4], I know that Mr Galtung is usually very strong in this area, but I’m also certain that his intense dislike of the fact that the process (and Mr Santos) got this Peace Prize go the better of him, and has led him to a (very) wrong and disrespectful conclusion. Given that the “justice” element of the process and agreement has been under such intense scutiny and the scope of such immense negotiations. Do you disagree that Mr Galtung is just sending a back-hand slap to the result?

    [7]. Yes, the conflict has internal roots, but it is international in scope and in effects. Not only Colombia but the entire Latin American world will be a much better place with peace in Colombia. That part is fully in line with Nobel’s will. Witness the effort and interest so many other South and Central American countries had and has in the result.