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2015 Nobel Peace Prize Announced


And in Oslo this morning came this announcement of one of the world's most prestigious awards.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2015 is to be awarded to the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet for its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution of 2011.

MONTAGNE: It was Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution that set off the Arab Spring. The organization of civil society groups known as the Quartet was formed in the summer of 2013, after a series of political assassinations threatened to tear that small country apart. NPR's Leila Fadel has covered Tunisia for years, and she joins us now from London. Good morning.

LEILA FADEL, BYLINE: Good morning.

MONTAGNE: Tell us more about the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet.

FADEL: Well, as you said, this is a group of civil society organizations made up of the powerful labor union, the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts, the Tunisian Human Rights League and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers. And these are groups that sort of touch every part of Tunisian society. And after these political assassinations began, the Quartet stepped in and became the mediator between Islamists and secularists and really are credited with keeping pluralistic democracy alive in Tunisia.

MONTAGNE: And why the Quartet for this huge, important prize?

FADEL: Well, I think the committee - the committee says the prize is meant to encourage a democracy - the democracy that still faces really so many challenges. It also said that the Quartet brought Tunisia back from the brink of civil war. Now, remember, the Tunisia - Tunisia was the first country to Revolt against authoritarian rule in the Middle East, and it set off a domino effect. And now it's really the only country in the region that remains on a path to democracy and the quartet is said to have saved Tunisia on that and kept it on that path.

MONTAGNE: You know, what does it actually mean for a country that, as you just sort of said, started the Arab Spring?

FADEL: This is a symbolic win. Tunisia is the only country from the so-called Arab Spring that really is on what would be a path to success. They have a representative democracy. When you look at other countries, like Egypt that has regressed back to a form of authoritarianism, like its neighbor Libya, where militias are ruling with guns - they have two governments and really almost a failed state - Tunisia's the only place that seems to be succeeding. And so this was welcomed as a message to the region. The head of the labor union said that himself, that this is a message to the regions that that dialogue can succeed, and it doesn't have to be guns and violence that lead to a solution.

MONTAGNE: Well, just briefly, Leila, who were the other frontrunners?

FADEL: The Tunisian Quartet beat out 273 other candidates. And among those believed to be the frontrunners was the pope, who was a favorite because of his social stances and his role in the U.S.-Cuba rapprochement, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, because of her stance on refugees and migrants here in Europe. And so really they beat out quite a few big names and were a bit of a surprise winner - but a big deal for Tunisia.

MONTAGNE: OK, thank you very much.

FADEL: Thank you.

MONTAGNE: NPR's Leila Fadel speaking to us this morning about the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize, which was awarded to the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.