Teen climate change activist Greta Thunberg has not been awarded the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize.
The 16-year-old Swede, who has garnered headlines in recent months for her environmentally friendly trip across the Atlantic and speech at the U.N. in New York City, was beaten out for the prize by the prime minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed Ali, Quartz reported.
Abiy was awarded the prize for his work to end a decades-long conflict between his nation and Eritrea.
Norwegian Nobel Committee chairman Berit Reiss-Andersen said that Abiy was being recognized “for his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighboring Eritrea,” according to Quartz.
The Ethiopian leader, who has served as prime minister since April 2018, signed a historic peace accord with Eritrea just months after his election and is credited with “ending a long stalemate between the two countries,” The New York Times reported.
The conflict began in 1998 and simmered in a state of “neither peace nor war.” During that time, over 80,000 Ethiopians and Eritreans died in the border violence.
Abiy’s peace deal has been far from his only achievement while in office. He’s also rooted out corruption in Ethiopia’s government and freed thousands of political prisoners, according to The Guardian.
That outlet also quoted East African politics expert Ahmed Soliman as saying that “you don’t want to exaggerate but for Ethiopia, a country where everything has been done in a very prescriptive, slow and managed way, [Abiy’s] changes are unprecedented.”
“I am so humbled and thrilled … thank you very much,” Abiy said of his award, The Guardian reported.
“It is a prize given to Africa, given to Ethiopia, and I can imagine how the rest of Africa’s leaders will take it positively to work on the peace-building process in our continent.”
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was among the international leaders to praise Abiy’s achievements.
“His vision helped Ethiopia and Eritrea achieve a historic rapprochement,” he said, according to CBS News.
“Prime Minister Ahmed’s leadership has set a wonderful example for others in and beyond Africa looking to overcome resistance from the past and put people first.”
Despite the significance of the Ethiopian Prime Minister’s accomplishments, the Nobel committee recognized the necessity of further reform in the East African nation.
“Prime Minister Abiy’s achievements have not been completed,” the committee said. “We recognize that it might be debatable whether it is too early or not… but the committee believes now is the time to recognize, and to encourage.”
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