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Colombia May Receive Nobel Peace Prize, Pope Visit for Ending War

After ending five decades of bloody conflict, the government of Colombia and the Marxist FARC rebels signed a peace accord Friday. As a result, Colombia and rebel leaders are up for a Nobel Peace Prize, and Pope Francis has promised to visit.

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos says Pope Francis will pay a visit to his country in the first quarter of 2017. Santos announced the upcoming four-day visit a meeting of the country's petroleum industry.

The pope promised in February to visit Colombia if the country's government and rebels signed a peace treaty to end Latin American's longest-running conflict. The treaty was signed on Monday, though it still must be ratified by voters.

Colombia could also receive a Nobel Peace Prize next week due to the signing of a peace accord that has ended half-century of war that has left hundreds of thousands of people dead.

Image: Marxist rebel leader Londono signs accord ending a half-century war that killed a quarter of a million people, in Cartagena
Marxist rebel leader Rodrigo Londono (R), better known by the nom de guerre Timochenko, signs an accord ending a half-century war that killed a quarter of a million people next to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (L), Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto (2nd L) and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos (partially obscured) JOHN VIZCAINO / Reuters

The Nobel Peace Prize might be shared by Marxist FARC leader Timoleón Jiménez, known as Timonchenko, and the President Juan Manuel Santos.

"The agreement ... is one of the most obvious peace prize candidates I've ever seen," said Asle Sveen, a historian who tracks the awards. Still, he said a prize may hinge on a "Yes" to the agreement in a referendum in Colombia on Sunday.

RELATED: Colombia to Sign Peace Accord After 5 Decades of Violence

This moment is significant because it would be the first award for Latin America since Guatemalan human rights activist Rigoberta Menchu won in 1992.

Kristian Berg Harpviken, head of the Peace Research Institute, Oslo, puts Gannushkina as his favorite, with Colombia second, saying such a prize would be an overdue rebuke to President Vladimir Putin.

Image: Colombian President Santos and Marxist rebel leader Londono after signing an accord ending a half-century war that killed a quarter of a million people, in Cartagena
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos (R) and Marxist rebel leader Rodrigo Londono, better known by the nom de guerre Timochenko, after signing an accord ending a half-century war that killed a quarter of a million people, in Cartagena, Colombia September 26, 2016. Colombian Presidency/Handout via Reuters/File Photo HANDOUT / Reuters

"Ten years into the future there's a risk that it will be seen as major omission by the Nobel Committee," he said of a lack of criticisms of Russian restrictions on human rights and the annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region in 2014.

RELATED: Colombia Pushes for Quick Vote on Peace Deal with FARC

An award for Colombia would shift the prize back to traditions of peace-making by individuals. The five-strong Nobel committee, comprising several former politicians, might also be swayed because Norway helped broker the accord.

Organizations have won three of the past four years in the strongest run since the awards were set up in the 1895 will of Sweden's Alfred Nobel, a philanthropist and inventor of dynamite.

Image: Colombia's President Santos and Cuba's President Castro shake hands as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Marxist rebel leader Londono shake hands as well in Cartagena
(From left) Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos and Cuba's President Raul Castro shake hands as United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (2nd R) and Marxist rebel leader Rodrigo Londono (R), better known by the nom de guerre Timochenko, shake hands as well, next to Norway's Foreign Minister Boerge Brende in Cartagena, Colombia September 26, 2016. JOHN VIZCAINO / Reuters

Last year's prize went to Tunisia's National Dialogue Quartet, for peacefully helping build democracy, in 2013 to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and in 2012 to the European Union, now set to shrink after Britain voted to leave.

"There was less interest in the media when there was only an organization," said Geir Lundestad, who was secretary to the secretive committee from 1990-2014.

RELATED: Colombia: Permanent Cease-Fire Takes Effect

This year's award comes days after the death of Israel's Shimon Peres, who shared the 1994 prize with late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Mother Teresa, the 1979 winner, was declared a saint by Pope Francis this month.

The prizes begin on Oct. 3 with Physiology or Medicine, Physics on Oct. 4, Chemistry on Oct. 5, Peace on Oct. 7, Economics on Oct. 10. All except peace are awarded in Stockholm.

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