Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos receives the Nobel Peace Prize during joint ceremonies in Oslo and Stockholm on Decmebr 10th, 2016. Photo: Håkon Mosvold Larsen/TT
Dressed in tails and white ties, this year's Nobel laureates in medicine, economics, physics and chemistry accepted their prizes at a gala ceremony in Stockholm on Saturday, marked by the notable absence of the literature prize winner, US music icon Bob Dylan.
Earlier in the day, the Nobel Peace Prize was presented to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos for his bid to end a five-decade conflict with Marxist rebels FARC.
The Colombian president was awarded 2016's prize for reaching a peace agreement with the FARC guerilla movement, signalling the end of a lasting over 50 years.
After an initial agreement was rejected in a national referendum in October, Santos was able to renegotiate a new peace deal with the rebels, which was signed by both sides on November 24th.
Five days after the rejection of the initial agreement, the Nobel Committee announced it would award Santos the Peace Prize, a boost the Colombian president has called a “gift from heaven” in his attempts to push through a renegotiated truce.
Santos used his acceptance speech in Oslo to encourage the rest of the world to approach its challenges with optimism, citing the conflict in Syria as an area he hopes will find inspiration from the Colombian peace.
“The sun of peace is finally shining in the Colombian skies. May it light up the whole world,” said Santos during his speech at Oslo City Hall, according to Dagens Nyheters report.
Santos described the Colombian peace as a ray of hope in a world plagued by conflicts such as those in Syria, Yemen and South Sudan.
“Allow me to tell you, from my own experience, that it is much harder to make peace than to wage war,” Santos said, according to the BBC.
Santos made a nod towards literature prize laureate Bob Dylan – who has shied away from publicity around the award and was not present in Stockholm, where the award for Literature is presented – by quoting a line from 'Blowin' in The Wind'.
Dylan declined his invitation to the ceremony, citing “pre-existing commitments” – a move that created a stir in Sweden where it was seen as a slight towards the Swedish Academy, which awards the literature prize, and the Nobel Foundation.
Dylan, 75, is the first singer-songwriter to be awarded the prestigious literature prize.
In his absence, American rock star Patti Smith performed Dylan's “A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall” during the glitzy ceremony, stumbling after appearing to either forget the lyrics or be overcome by nerves. She apologised to the 1,500 guests and resumed singing after warm applause.
Dylan sent a thank-you speech to be read at a gala banquet later in the evening at Stockholm's City Hall, attended by around 1,300 guests and the Swedish royal family.
According to the Nobel Foundation, his prize should be presented to him in person sometime in 2017, either in Sweden or abroad.
But the other 2016 laureates were on hand to collect their prizes.
British trio David Thouless, Duncan Haldane and Michael Kosterlitz were the first called up to accept their physics prize, followed by France's Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Britain's Fraser Stoddart and Bernard Feringa of the Netherlands for their award in chemistry.
Yoshinori Ohsumi of Japan then collected his medicine prize, and finally, British-American Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmstrom of Finland accepted the award for economics.
At the Stockholm ceremony, the nine laureates on hand received their prizes from King Carl XVI Gustaf, in a concert hall decked with thousands of pink roses and red amaryllis, all donated by the Italian town of San Remo, where prize creator Alfred Nobel died on December 10, 1896.
Each Nobel prize consists of a gold medal, a diploma and a cheque for eight million Swedish kronor (824,000 euros, $871,000) to be shared if there is more than one laureate in the discipline.