Thursday, October 7, 2010

On the Nobel Peace Prize, anno 2010

This is just your friendly neighbourhood Norwegian reminding you that it is that time of year again...

Tomorrow, at 11 AM CEST (or is that CET? Daylight saving confuses me... I am aiming for whatever abbreviation the current time zone of Continental Europe has...) the announcement of this year's Nobel Peace Prize Laureate will be made from a building not far from my current location. I'd tell you all about the background for this, but that is completely unnecessary since I already did that, last year.

Last year I also took the opportunity to deviate from my insistence on starting every title of every blog post on this blog with the word "on" when I felt the need to double-post (!) to comment on the surprising choice of US President Barack Obama as last year's laureate. I promise I will do no such thing today (I also promise, on behalf of the Nobel Committee that Obama won't win again this year). Instead I plan on taking a few moments tomorrow to share my thoughts on this year's laureate, whomever that may be. This means that tomorrow's post will be slightly delayed from its regular 8 AM schedule, though, but I am sure you all bear with me...

In the meantime I have some thoughts with regards to what sort of laureate we'll be looking at. Or first off, what sort of laureate it won't be.

It most likely will not be a "nuclear" prize this year. The Committee has a tradition for picking laureates that has worked specifically for reduction of nuclear weapons in years marking the decade anniversaries of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings in 1945. In 2005 the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) og Mohamed ElBaradei won. In 1985 the organization International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War won.

It is also very unlikely, in my opinion, that we will see a retreat to the 2000s trend of picking laureates that are not specifically honoured for their work for reduction of wars, but for other factors that are considered vital for a peaceful world. Climate awareness and poverty reduction were issues the previous Committee, with its leader the value-oriented Ole Danbolt Mjøs, considered important factors to lasting peace in a changing world. I am sure the current committee also values these issues, but the current leader, Torbjørn Jagland, is a much more traditional politician in many ways. He is also the current Secretary General of the Council of Europe, and his knowledge of international politics is impressive to say the least. Thus, pragmatism and geopolitical denominators are much more likely factors to determine the current committee's choice. I would be surprised if a new Wangari Maathai, Muhammad Yunus or Al Gore wins this year.

One previously alternative factor have become conventional for the Nobel Committee's interpretation of the term peace, however. Human Rights advocates have periodically been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize since the 1960s. The last time this was used as a foundation for finding a laureate was in 2003, when Shirin Ebadi won. It doubtlessly seems like a good time to pick another human rights candidate. I could also add that it is a good time to pick another female laureate, as those are a minority in the Prize's almost 109 year long history.

Commentators have been speculating for years if it is not time to give the prize to a Chinese dissident as a way of commenting on the continuous breach of human rights in China. One candidate might be the former Rafto Human Rights Prize winner Rebiya Kadeer, who is a Uyghur business woman and political activist who for years have been suggested as a potential Nobel candidate. Though this is probably where I'd place my money, there are also other Rafto winners that might be potential Nobel laureates - the Nobel Peace Prize has actually several times been awarded to former Rafto winners.

One final guess from my part - I don't think the Nobel Committee will choose any Russian dissidents this year. The Norwegian Nobel Committee are independent of the Norwegian government, but I think I would give the Committee too much credit if I said it was making its decisions in a vacuum from Norwegian foreign policy and interests. Norway and Russia recently signed an important agreement that settled border questions that have been a point of disagreement for forty years. The current friendly political climate between Norway and Russia is probably not something the Nobel Committee would want to risk. Even though the decisions of the Nobel Committee in no way represents the official Norwegian policy, a critical prize to a Russian dissident would be received extremely unfavourably in Moscow. I'm willing to bet, then, that this is not a chance the Committee will take at this time.

So, if you're placing any bets (though you'd have to hurry!) I'd go for human rights, and check out the list of Rafto winners. Though I don't guarantee that I am right...


ALSØ WIK: Woot! The Literature Prize announced today (the Swedes like to start early...), and it was well-deservedly (is that a word?) given to Mario Vargas Llosa. I have been doubting the judgement of the Swedish Nobel Committee for some time, but they made a good decision this year. A laureate I've actually read (and liked)!

18 comments:

Sarah Callejo said...

Oooh a potential Nobel Prize Laureate in your neighbourhood, I hope this means success is only a few doorsteps away from you.
I agree, human rights.

Boonie S said...

I suspect that I’m not in the running again this year. Maybe next time.
Interesting post. Thanks.

All the best, Boonie

Cruella Collett said...

Sarah - well, since the prize is awarded in Oslo the laureate will have to come to my neighbourhood, won't he/she?

Boonie - you never know. I'd say your musings about all things cassava or not deserves a Nobel Prize, but perhaps you'd better go for the Literature one rather than the Peace one, eh? ;)

Anonymous said...

Liu Xiaobo is an American spy!

Liu on the take from US government is a fact. Even our own law (FARA) states financial sponsorship by foreignty entity, in part or whole, substantiates foreign agent status.

Evidence of Liu taking over a million dollars from US government is publically available – in NED’s China grant publication. Liu started two political organizations, ICPC and Mingzhu Zhongguo, to received funding from a quasi-government entity funded by the US congress.

Come on, this is double standard. Would an American on the take from China advocating abolition of US constitution ever be considered for the Nobel Peace Prize? Heck no.

Kadeer? Forget about it. Did she incite last year's racial riot in Urumqi?

Cruella Collett said...

Anonymous - that is an interesting comment (and it also fascinates me that the same comment appears to have been copy-pasted on other blogs on the subject - based on that evidence I might jump to the conclusion that this is a deliberate attempt by some [I won't guess who - the fact that you choose to remain anonymous here and goes by an obvious pen name elsewhere, combined with the information of how you found this blog is enough of an indication, BUT unlike others, I don't jump to conclusions...] - a deliberate attempt to trash certain people that are working against a certain regime. (By the way, thanks for bringing up Liu Xiaobo - he is another hot candidate that I had not mentioned at all. That was a glitch)

I respect the opinions of anyone who wants to comment here, but those are serious accusations of which there to my knowledge isn't any documentation. And I would like to remind you that criticism of China's human rights breaches is not exactly comparable to demanding an abolition of the US constitution.

I am slightly flattered that you considered my little comment on tomorrow's announcement worthy of such attention, though.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Although I am all for peace I don't think I'm a likely candidate.
With all the trials and tribulations goin g on in the world I can't hazzard a guess who will win.
Enjoyed the post as usual, very interesting.

Yvonne.

M.J. Nicholls said...

Conspiracy and intrigue! Very exciting. You are my only source of news on this subject as we get very little coverage here. (I could Google but where's the fun in that?)

The Golden Eagle said...

I don't usually pay much attention to the Nobel Peace Prize, but after they awarded Obama I got more curious.

Cruella Collett said...

Yvonne - you never know, make sure to wait by the phone just in case ;)

Mark - I know! I'm expecting conspiratorial threats any minute now! And it makes me feel strangely powerful to think I'm your only source of Nobel news. I should try to come up with a fake winner before tomorrow...

Cruella Collett said...

TGE - you snuck in on me ;) Yes, last year was a surprise. I did not see that one coming. I don't think anyone did, really. Make sure to check back in for any new surprises tomorrow!

Jules said...

I second the eagle, Obama? And I would like to say how impressed I am in your dealing with "The Anonymous." :)

Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Cold As Heaven said...

I think it was cool when Obama got the peace prize last year. It's good that he gets some support from Europe in his struggle with all the crazy republicans and Tea Party guys in the US.

Maybe EU will be a strong candidate this year? I saw that was suggested in the newspapers.

Cold As Heaven

Georgina Dollface said...

I feel smarter already. Your knowledge of potential candidates is very impressive. Excellent response to the Anonymous commenter too. I had no idea this was such a political hot button for some people. - G

Cruella Collett said...

Jules - thank you, but really, it was only a matter of doing a little research. Too bad he probably won't come back - it might have been an interesting debate...

CAH - personally I think it is good that Obama gets some support too, but I am not convinced the Nobel Peace Prize was his desired way of getting it... But I warmed to that award after having thought it through - it is more in accordance with Nobel's will than several other recent ones have been.
And the EU is an interesting candidate. Personally I think this will be unlikely as long as the yes/no to EU membership schism exists in Norwegian politics, and as long as a prominent member of the "No" side is a part of the committee. On the other hand, they don't come much more EU friendly than the current leader, Jagland, and he was clearly the brain behind last year's choice, so who knows. (Jeg regner med du sikkert vet dette også, men greit å fylle inn litt for fellesskapets skyld..)

Georgina - I do have an unhealthy obsession for this after having written a BA thesis about it. And yes - very much a political hot button for a small country with very few other outlets for political influence!

nonamedufus said...

You know I heard a rumour this year's recipient will be Glenn Beck.(haha) Tell me it isn't so.

Cruella Collett said...

Noname - it isn't so. I'd be willing to eat my hat - though since I don't really have a hat I should offer something else instead, what about my shoes? - if he wins. Besides, Glenn is too busy with his tea party - he couldn't take time off for a peace party!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's wild you're so close to the action.
Al Gore. Yeah. Right!

Cruella Collett said...

Alex - last year Obama's car passed in the street right outside my house!

An yes, I can also assure you Gore won't win again.

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