Notre Dame Law School professor Douglass Cassel will join Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos at the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony Saturday (December 10) in Oslo, Norway. Santos will receive his prize from the chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee in the presence of King Harald V of Norway.
Santos was named the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize laureate October 7 “for his resolute efforts to bring Colombia’s more than 50-year-long civil war with the country’s largest rebel group, the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), to an end.” Cassel, who played a crucial role in the peace talks, will join Santos at his request.
Although Colombians voted against the peace agreement in October, the country’s Congress approved a revised peace accord November 30 between the government and the FARC guerrillas.
“This means that real steps toward peace — demobilization and disarmament of the guerrillas — will now begin,” Cassel said. “While much legislative and constitutional reform work remains to be accomplished in Congress, the process of ending the longest civil war in the hemisphere now appears to be irreversible.
“I can think of no one more deserving than President Santos to win the Nobel Peace Prize,” Cassel said. “He has long persevered in the pursuit of peace, in spite of many obstacles. When Colombians voted by a razor-thin margin to reject the negotiated peace agreement, he responded by convening a national dialogue to see what could be improved, and by declaring his determination to work for peace until his last day in office. President Santos is truly a man who has peace in his heart.”
Adviser to Notre Dame’s Center for Civil and Human Rights, Cassel was appointed by Santos to a bilateral working group tasked with developing proposals for legal mechanisms to hold accountable those responsible for the most serious acts of violence committed by both the government and the rebel forces during the war.
On September 25, Santos presented Cassel with the Order of Merit, Colombia’s highest award granted to foreign citizens, for his service to government in helping to negotiate the transitional justice component of the peace agreement.
(Watch Cassel’s Fighting For Lasting Peace)