Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet
The Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet (Arabic: الرباعي التونسي للحوار الوطني, French: Quartet du dialogue national) is a group of four organizations that were central in the attempts to build a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution of 2011.
The quartet was formed in the summer of 2013. On 9 October 2015, the quartet was awarded the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize.
The National Dialogue Quartet comprises the following organizations in Tunisian civil society:
- The Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT, Union Générale Tunisienne du Travail)
- The Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts (UTICA, Union Tunisienne de l'Industrie, du Commerce et de l'Artisanat)
- The Tunisian Human Rights League (LTDH, La Ligue Tunisienne pour la Défense des Droits de l'Homme)
- The Tunisian Order of Lawyers (Ordre National des Avocats de Tunisie)
Background to formation
In 2011, Tunisia was experiencing a revolution. In its wake, the stability and security of the country were considerably compromised. After the creation of the Assemblée nationale constituante (Constituent Assembly of Tunisia) of 2011, the writing of a new constitution proved difficult and the one-year deadline for its final ratification passed without much progress. During this time, the government was criticized for its lax attitude towards radical Islamists. Several attacks took place; the most widely reported was the assassination of Chokri Belaïd on 6 February 2013.
Consequently, tensions between the Tunisian government's Islamist majority and its opposition increased. There were huge opposition-led protests in the summer of 2013 which threatened the continued existence of the national government at that time. After the assassination of Mohamed Brahmi on 25 July 2013, Belaïd and Brahmi's group, Popular Front, banded with the other opposition parties into a group named the National Salvation Front. This group organized the Bardo street protest, calling for the government to resign. In addition, 42 opposition members withdrew from the Assembly. From 6 August 2013, the Assembly was unable to carry on normal functioning.
Given the critical situation, the Tunisian General Labour Union took the first step in forming an alliance of civil societies by approaching the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts, considered their historical rival. The Tunisian Human Rights League and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers later joined. The role of the UGTT throughout the Jasmine Revolution and transition period was recently discussed in the following journal article, "No Ordinary Union: The Role of the UGTT in the Tunisian path to revolution and transition" (Workers of the World, Volume I, Number 7, November 2015).
The regional context of violent exacerbation, coupled with the local discontent against Ennahdha’s performance in office, has put a huge question mark on the Tunisian transition. Although Ennahdha claimed to be a moderate political party, its perceived failure to fight extremist groups and its perceived dual speech has strengthened the belief of anti ennahdha people who claimed that this local branch of the Muslim brotherhood was a light cover for more extreme Islamic groups. The political assassinations against two opposition leaders, Chokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi, and the killing of Tunisian soldiers by Islamist terrorists in 2013, will polarize public opinion even more. Huge demonstrations started in the summer of 2013 in Bardo asking for both the constitutional assembly and the government to be dissolved. People wanted democracy to succeed, but not at the expense of security and progressive reform. Ennahdha, was committed to remain in office, and claimed its democratic legitimacy over power. Nidaa Tounes and the opposition argued that although Ennahdha access to power was democratic, the transition was supposed to last 1 year only and had one main objective: the drawing of a new democratic and consensual constitution for the country. 1 year and a half after Ennahdha accession to power, the constitution was far from being completed. The political debate was near a dead-end, and non-political actors will have to step in to find a solution. Civil society will step in a forge a national dialogue initiative to prevent Tunisia’s transition to democracy to fail: the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet was constituted on that premise.
On 29 July 2013, the Tunisian General Labour Union called for negotiations between the parties in power and the opposition. The parties accepted in September 2013, as the situation was worsening. On 17 September 2013, the initiative was made public and placed under the aegis of the Labour Union and three other civic organizations: the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts, the Tunisian Order of Lawyers and the Tunisian Human Rights League.
On 17 September 2013, the four organizations drafted an agreement between the parties suggesting compromises that would allow negotiations to commence. This draft roadmap had four main points: the resignation of the government and its replacement by an "independent technocratic" government, the choice of fixed dates for parliamentary recesses and elections (including presidential elections), the agreement to preserve national identity in the new constitution, and negotiation of the steps necessary for the transition to a democratic government (including deadlines for each).
Each political party had to accept the roadmap if it wanted to participate in the negotiations. Twenty-one parties from both sides signed the agreement, making the national dialogue possible. The only major party that refused to participate was the party of interim president Moncef Marzouki, the Congress for the Republic, which was one of the three parties in power.
The first dialogue session took place on 5 October 2013, at the Palais des Congrès in Tunis. During the discussions, a slip of the tongue (substituting the similarly pronounced Arabic word "jackass" in place of "dialogue") by Abdessattar Ben Moussa, president of the Tunisian Human Rights League caused gales of laughter among the delegates, even Rached Ghannouchi, president of the Ennahdha party.
After the initial session, subsequent talks continued regularly, under the aegis of the quartet, at the Transitional Ministry of Human Rights and Justice. During these discussions, the Quartet played an active role which was considered important to the success of these talks. They led to the choosing of Mehdi Jomaa as Prime Minister on 14 December, the resignation of the government of Ali Larayedh on 9 January 2014, the ratification of the new constitution on 24 January and presidential elections in December.
2015 Nobel Peace Prize
On 9 October 2015, the quartet won the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize "for its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution of 2011".
Kaci Kullmann Five, head of the Nobel Committee, said: "It established an alternative peaceful political process at a time when the country was on the brink of civil war". The Nobel committee said it hopes Tunisia will serve as an example for other countries.
- Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi said the award recognizes the "path of consensus" and "Tunisia has no other solution than dialogue despite ideological disagreements". Mohammed Fadhel Mafoudh, head of the Tunisian Order of Lawyers, said that the award "is the recognition of a whole process. It’s a process that started so that Tunisia would have a democratic system … that respects freedoms" and "It’s also a message to the rest of the world, to all countries, to all the people who aspire to democracy and peace...".
- U.S. President Barack Obama called the Quartet "an inspiring reminder that lasting peace and security can only be achieved when citizens are empowered to forge their own future and “that democracy is possible and necessary in North Africa and the Middle East".
- German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said that the Nobel Peace Prize is “the deserved reward for working on democracy, for sticking to the idea that a people that has shaken off dictatorship deserves something better than a new dictatorship”.
- U.N. spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said to reporters in Geneva: "we need a civil society to help us to move peace processes forward".
- Ban Ki-moon said “this recognition belongs to all those who gave birth to the Arab Spring and are striving to safeguard the sacrifices of so many” and "this tribute highlights that lasting progress requires an inclusive process. The Arab Spring began with great hopes that were soon replaced with grave doubts. Tunisia has managed to avoid the disappointment and dashed hopes that have tragically emerged elsewhere".
- Antoine Lerougetel and Johannes Stern (15 October 2013). "Tunisian political parties organize "national dialogue"". Retrieved 9 October 2015.
- Melvin, Don (9 October 2015). "Boost for Arab Spring: Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet wins Nobel Peace Prize". CNN. Retrieved 9 October 2015.
- "Announcement - The Nobel Peace Prize for 2015". 9 October 2015.
- "The Nobel Peace Prize 2015". Nobelprize.org. 9 October 2015.
- "The Nobel Peace Prize 2015 - Press Release". Nobelprize.org. 9 October 2015.
- African Manager (28 September 2012). "La solidité économique de la Tunisie affectée par l'instabilité politique et les problèmes de sécurité, selon Moody's". Retrieved 9 October 2015.
- African Manager (20 December 2012). "Tunisie : Les forces de sécurité en état d'alerte maximale!". Retrieved 9 October 2015.
- Yadh Ben Achour (27 January 2015). "Tunisie : La force du droit ou la naissance d'une constitution en temps de révolution.". Retrieved 9 October 2015.
- "Assassinats politiques : La Tunisie revient de très loin". 6 February 2014. Retrieved 9 October 2015.
- "Tunisie : retour sur 6 mois de troubles politiques, sociaux et religieux". 26 July 2013. Retrieved 9 October 2015.
- Borger, Julian. "Who are the Tunisian national dialogue quartet?". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 October 2015.
- "No Ordinary Union: The role of UGTT in the Tunisian path to revolution and transition". www.academia.edu. Retrieved 2015-12-15.
- Sewell Chanoct (9 October 2015). "Nobel Peace Prize Is Awarded to National Dialogue Quartet in Tunisia". New York Times.
- Chennoufi, A. (2013). "Tunisie, Politique : Dialogue national : TOP c'est parti avec 210 minutes de retard !". Tunivisions,. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
- "Le lapsus de Abdessatar Moussa (Vidéo)". Business News. 2013. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
- Chennoufi, A. (2013). "Tunisie , Politique : Reprise du Dialogue National : Le Quartet se réuni avec les partis politiques dans le cadre du Processus électoral". Tunivisions. Retrieved 9 October 2015.
- Ben Hamadi, M. (23 December 2013). "Tunisie — Reprise du dialogue national: le plus dur reste à faire.". Al Huffington Post.
- Ben Hamadi, S. (9 January 2014). "Tunisie: Ali Larayedh remet sa démission au Président de la République.". Al Huffington Post.
- "Tunisie – Dialogue national : Les élections législatives devanceront la présidentielle.". Business News. 13 June 2014.
- Luis Ramirez (2015-10-09). "Tunisian Mediators Win Nobel Prize". VOA.
- Associated Press (2015-10-09). "The Latest: Obama praises Nobel Peace Prize choice". Washington Times.
- Media related to Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet at Wikimedia Commons
|Awards and achievements|
|Laureate of the Nobel Peace Prize
| Succeeded by|
Juan Manuel Santos