Juan Manuel Santos, former President of Colombia

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Read the reflection article by Ronke Olowojesiku

Lessons in Leadership: A Conversation with Juan Manuel Santos, former President of Colombia and 2016 Nobel Peace Laureate

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Born in Bogota on August 10, 1951. He was a cadet at the Naval Academy in Cartagena; he studied Economics and Business Administration at the University of Kansas and has also completed post-graduate studies at London School of Economics and Harvard University.

He was Chief of the Colombian delegation to the International Coffee Organization (ICO) in London; he was the last Designate to the Presidency, and Colombia’s first Foreign Trade Minister. He also served as Finance Minister and National Defense Minister.

Santos created the Good Government Foundation (Fundación Buen Gobierno) and founded the Partido de la U political party in 2005. As a journalist, he was a columnist and Deputy Director of El Tiempo newspaper; he was awarded the King of Spain Prize and served as president of the Freedom of Expression Commission for the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA). He has published several books, Third Way, co-authored with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Check on Terror (Jaque al Terror), in which he describes the most important actions against the FARC guerrillas during his tenure as Minister of Defense, among other publications.

On June 20, 2010, he was elected as President of the Republic of Colombia for the 2010 – 2014 term, with over 9 million votes. He took office on August 7th, 2010. In August 2012, he publicly announced that his government was working on a peace process with the FARC. On June 15, 2014, with more than 7.8 million votes, he was reelected as President for the 2014 – 2018 term, with a government plan based on three pillars: Peace, Equity and Education.

As a result of his tenacity and dedication to achieve peace and reconciliation in Colombia, in 2016 the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded him the Nobel Peace Prize for his resolute efforts to bring the armed conflict to an end. The Nobel Committee added that the distinction “is a tribute to the Colombian people who, despite great hardships and abuses, have not given up hope of a just peace, and to all the parties who have contributed to the peace process”.

Peace has been a driver throughout Santos’ entire life. The Nobel Peace Prize summarizes a path, his relentless pursuit for peace in Colombia. Santos left office on August 7th, 2018. He has since been appointed as Angelopoulos fellow at Harvard University and visiting professor at Oxford University. In addition, he joined The Elders and the Global Commission for Drug Policy. On December, 2018, Santos launched the Compaz Foundation, which will channel the funds from his Nobel Peace Prize to aide in the reparation process of the victims of the Colombian armed conflict. The Foundation will not only focus on peace building, but also on environmental protection and the fight against poverty.