Six questions about this year's Nobel Peace Prize answered

The World
Wided Bouchamaoui, president of Tunisia's Employers' Organisation (UTICA) and a member of Tunisia's National Dialogue Quartet, talks to journalists in her office in Tunis, Tunisia October 9, 2015.

Wided Bouchamaoui, president of Tunisia's Employers' Organisation (UTICA) and a member of Tunisia's National Dialogue Quartet, talks to journalists in her office in Tunis, Tunisia October 9, 2015.

REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi

The Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet is this year’s winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Who? You might ask.

Here’s a basic explanation.

Who makes up the group?

The National Dialogue Quartet is made up of four main organizations: the Tunisian General Labor Union, the Tunisian Union of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts, the Tunisian Human Rights League, and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers.

What did they do?

Tunisia was the first country where the Arab Spring erupted. On December 17th, 2010, a young fruit vendor by the name of Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire. Following Bouazizi’s death, major protests took place in the country and they forced the longtime leader Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali into exile.

The role of the group after the fall of Ben Ali was to stifle political infighting.

"These four organizations were instrumental in getting Tunisia out of a very serious political crisis in 2013 that could have toppled the transition, sending Tunisia the way of Egypt," says Monica Marks, a fellow with the European Council on Foreign Relations. Marks adds that the groups were critical of the government but they mediated ways out of impasse.

Who else was nominated?

The Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet was chosen out of 273 candidates. Some of the names of that list included former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, Pope Francis, Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif and US Secretary of State John Kerry.

What's been the reaction in Tunisia?

“It’s the talk of the town here in Tunis,” says Marks. “People are very happy. A lot of people look at it as very symbolic, important show of international good will for the transition.”

She adds that the new is more discussed in educated, better off, coastal areas than it is in poorer communities.

What's life like for ordinary people in Tunisia today?

Marks explains that while Tunisians are excited about the news of the Nobel Peace Prize, life for many is still very difficult.

“Tunisians in [poorer communities] have been made a lot of promises by the international community…and very little has changed for people on a tangible level,” she says.

She adds that the economy has been affected by the two terrorist attacks this year. One happened this past June, when 38 people were killed when a gunman attacked a hotel. The second was back in March, when three people attacked the Bardo National Museum in Tunis and around 20 were killed.

Marks says since those attacks, the tourism industry, which Tunisia depends on, has been struggling.

What does the Nobel Peace Prize mean for Tunisia moving forward?

Marks hopes that the Nobel Peace Prize puts Tunisia back on the international community’s radar. She wants to see new investments in the country and its future.

“Not just dump-trucking money or security equipment but also partnering with Tunisia to improve much needed institutional reforms,” she says.

But she also wants Tunisia to keep focusing on government accountability, transparency and inclusivity. “Because these are fundamental in solving the terrorism problem as well,” she says.