Sat | Aug 19, 2017

Nobel Peace Prize winner urges shift in drug war

Published:Sunday | December 11, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos poses with his medal and diploma.

STOCKHOLM (AP):

Colombian Presi-dent Juan Manuel Santos yesterday accepted the Nobel Peace Prize, saying it helped his country achieve the "impossible dream" of ending a half-century-long civil war.

A smiling Santos received his Nobel diploma and gold medal at a ceremony in Oslo, Norway, for his efforts to end a conflict that has killed 220,000 people and displaced eight million.

"Ladies and gentlemen, there is one less war in the world, and it is the war in Colombia," the 65-year-old head of state said, referring to the historic peace deal this year with leftist rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

Santos used his acceptance speech to celebrate the end of the longest-running conflict in the Americas, pay tribute to its victims and call for a strategy shift in another, related war on drug trafficking worldwide.

Just a few years ago, imagining the end of the bloodshed in Colombia "seemed an impossible dream, and for good reason", Santos said, noting that very few Colombians could even remember their country at peace.

The president also used the Nobel podium to reiterate his call to "rethink" the war on drugs, "where Colombia has been the country that has paid the highest cost in deaths and sacrifices".

Santos has argued that the decades-old, US-promoted war on drugs has produced enormous violence and environmental damage in nations that supply cocaine, and needs to be supplanted by a global focus on easing laws prohibiting consumption of illegal narcotics.