Sheikh Rached Ghannouchi and Dr Moncef Marzouki were awarded the 2012 Chatham House Prize by His Royal Highness The Duke of York KG for the successful compromises each achieved during Tunisia's democratic transition. Representing two sides of the same coin, they have together ensured that Tunisia remains at the forefront of the new democratic wave in the Middle East and North Africa.
The winners collected their awards and a scroll signed by our patron, Her Majesty the Queen, at an award ceremony in London on 26 November 2012. Sheikh Ghannouchi and Dr Marzouki also spoke at Chatham House on Tunisia's democratic transition.
Sheikh Ghannouchi has been widely praised for his contribution to promoting the idea of compatibility between Islam and democracy and modernity, which has been translated into the promotion of a culture of tolerance and bridge-building across the political spectrum. He believes that majority rule on its own is not sufficient during transition periods to achieve success. Instead, consensus and coalitions are needed to tackle the challenges of democratic transition. This belief has led the Ennahdha party to make the choice of forming a coalition government with other secular parties which has led people across the world to view Tunisia as a model in the region where consensus, respect and acceptance of others – Islamist and secularist – has become the rule.
Dr Marzouki, a former president of the Tunisian League for Human Rights and a political prisoner under Ben Ali's regime, returned to Tunisia from exile in France in January 2011 to legalize and lead the opposition party he founded in 2001, the Congress for the Republic. During the campaign for the Constituent Assembly elections, Dr Marzouki demonstrated his ability to compromise and work across political and ideological divides. Although secular in orientation, his party joined the governing coalition formed by the Ennahdha party in Tunisia’s first popularly elected governing coalition. As the first democratically elected Arab president and a life-long human rights activist known all over the Arab world, Dr Marzouki has provided an example for others in the region to follow.
The award ceremony took place in London on 26 November 2012. Sheikh Rached Ghannouchi and Dr Moncef Marzouki were presented with their prizes by HRH The Duke of York. Keynote speeches were delivered by the winners, plus Andrew Brown, Director, Upstream International, Royal Dutch Shell; Alistair Burt MP, Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office; Baroness Scotland QC, Co-President, Chatham House; and Stuart Popham, Chairman, Chatham House.