The 2015 Nobel Peace Prize highlights the efficacy of dialogue in countering a lethal combination of cynicism, opportunism and extremism. Above all, it's a prize for civic responsibility and a reminder that peace and dialogue are two sides of the same coin. By Antonia Potter Prentice, Martin Griffiths and Andreas Müllerleile.

Last week the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2015 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”.

The prize shows that hope and dialogue are useful tools to counter violence and fear mongering. It is also a reminder that peace is hard work and that it is often constructed in painstakingly complex peace processes that can last for years. Changing cultures does not happen overnight. It is a slow process, often incomplete but it can provide hope for a better future. The Tunisian experience also tells us a four stories of how to build sustainable peace:

I. Dialogue is hard work

This may not come as a surprise to anyone working in peacebuilding. But dialogue does not happen without committed people who are stubborn enough to organise the process. This sort of dialogue does not even start with the first meeting. The Quartet for example had to sort out its own disagreements before it could help broker larger issues. It’s this kind of unglamorous, thankless hard work that actually creates a culture of peace.

II. Civil society can make a difference

Civil society can be a powerful force for good. The prize shows that citizens can make a difference. Sustainable peace is often about people – not governments. This is also a powerful lesson for European (foreign) policy makers: Look at what the people think, take them seriously and involve them in political processes.

III. Local solutions can work

This prize also honors the local over the international. It basically shows that we need to rethink the role of the local level in peacebuilding. Simply put, we need local solutions for local problems and we should to realise that the local road to peace is an opportunity, not an obstacle. There is also a story about building peace from the inside, also known as ‘insider mediation’, a practice that empowers local mediators to become trusted peacemakers. The question for Europe is simple: Are we doing enough to support these local efforts? Does European policies empower local solutions to conflicts?   

IV. Inclusion is key

It’s a prize about including not excluding. Tunisia has made leaps forward in peace making, constitutional reform and recognizing the rights of formerly marginalized major groups like women and youth in a way that should make many better established democracies sit up and think. Including marginalised communities is a recipe for better peace deals. Make no mistake: this is as far as it could be from the image of a few powerful men, meeting round highly polished tables clouded with cigar smoke to negotiate in secret...