What you need to know about this year’s Nobel Peace Prize

Nobel peace prize podium 2020The rostrum at the Nobel Institute just before committee chair Berit Reiss-Andersen made a short statement as part of the digital award ceremony for 2020's Peace Prize winner - Director of the World Food Program, David Beasley. Photo: Heiko Junge / NTB
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Read on for all of the key facts – including an overview of the candidates – about the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.

Fast facts

2021’s Nobel Peace Prize winner will be proclaimed on Friday, October 8 at 11 AM CET.

The Nobel Institute in Oslo is hosting the Nobel Committee for the announcement, as well as the subsequent press conference.

This year, there are 329 Nobel Peace Prize nominees; the third-highest number of nominees ever. 234 are individuals and 95 are organizations.

It’s still uncertain whether this year’s Peace Prize winner will be invited to Norway to participate in a traditional, in-person award ceremony in Oslo’s City Hall, or whether the event will be digital. The Nobel Committee will release the decision on a live or online award ceremony in mid-October. Either way, the ceremony is planned for December 10.

Winners of other Nobel Prizes awarded in Stockholm – unlike the Peace Prize, which is awarded in Oslo – will receive medals and diplomas in their home countries.

“Oslo Peace Days” is an overarching event being held from December 6 to 12 this year. It’s a collaboration between the Nobel Institute, the Municipality of Oslo, the University of Oslo, the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), and the Nobel Peace Center.

David Beasley, last year’s Peace Prize winner and Director of the World Food Program, received 2020’s award digitally.

Peace Prize candidates 2021: Freedom of the press, fights against authoritarian regimes, climate change, and anti-weapon movements

A few key themes stand out among this year’s Nobel Peace Prize nominees.

There’s talk of the peace prize going toward the global fight for free and reliable journalism, or the battle against authoritarian regimes. Climate change and anti-weapon movements are additional contenders.

PRIO Director Henrik Urdal favors the former two topics. Urdal predicted that the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize will follow one of two tracks: recognition of one or more commendable journalists or media efforts; or a non-violent struggle against authoritarian regimes.

Free, safe, and factual news media

“If it’s a media-related award, I think it would go to an organization [rather than an individual] such as Reporters Without Borders (RSF),” Urdal surmised further.

On the other hand, if the award were to be justified by the struggle for the freedom of the press and security for journalists in the field, Urdal also mentioned the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ) as a worthy candidate. CPJ is an international organization that collects data on journalists who have been attacked or killed, and acts as a spokesperson for journalists in times of crisis.

Finally, if the fight against fake news and for securing reliable information is emphasized the most, Urdal guessed that the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) would be the relevant candidate.

Opposition leaders

Urdal and Oda Andersen Nyborg, General Manager of the Norwegian Peace Council, also believe it’s entirely possible that people who lead political oppositions against oppressive and authoritarian regimes will receive the award.

They both named the Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya as a favorite. The former English teacher became the opposition’s presidential candidate when her husband Sergei Tikhanovsky was imprisoned by the regime.

“She has legitimacy as leader of the opposition and represents a counterweight to the authoritarian development we see in several places in Eastern Europe,” said Nyborg.

Urdal pointed out that the Belarusian regime is one of the most oppressive in the world, and noted that it’s countered by a large and non-violent opposition movement.

See more: Norway’s Yara International accused of funding Belarus dictatorship: “Can you live knowing you helped murderers and rapists?”

“An award here would point to a much larger, global struggle. Democratically oriented governments and processes are under pressure, for example, in Eastern Europe, Myanmar, and Hong Kong,” Urdal noted.

Among individual opposition nominees are also: Alexei Navalny (a critic of Vladimir Putin and opposition leader, Navalny was poisoned in 2020 and imprisoned in 2021), Ilham Tohti (an Uyghur economics scholar convicted of separatism in China, Tohti has been serving a life sentence since 2014), and Nathan Law (a pro-democracy activist and one of the student leaders of the so-called umbrella revolution in Hong Kong, Law is currently in exile in the UK).

The civil disobedience movement in Myanmar has been nominated, as well.

Climate and weapons

Climate action and the fight against various weapons are two current topics previously awarded with Peace Prizes.

Urdal and Byborg believe that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) could receive an award this year.

However, it has been pointed out that climates issue are not necessarily peace-promoting and, therefore, not in line with Alfred Nobel’s intentions for the award.

“But there is no topic that is more important now than global cooperation on the climate and environment – and the UNFCCC is a convention that organizes negotiations; it’s an initiative that serves to unite,” said Urdal.

So, an award to the UNFCCC, or another environmental organization, might fall within the Nobel Peace Prize’s scope.

Nyborg also commented that the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots could receive this year’s Peace Prize for the fight against weapon systems that can decide to kill, without human intervention.

Urdal also reaffirmed his belief in a future Peace Prize related to robotics and new weapon technology, and said the issue continues to become more and more important.

Betting on the Peace Prize

People have been putting money on who will win this year’s Peace Prize. Top contenders among betters are the World Health Organization (WHO), the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, and environmental activist Greta Thunberg.

“I do not believe that the WHO will receive the award, although I believe the WHO has undoubtedly played an important role during the pandemic.

“The question is whether they have done enough, and whether what they are doing has been a peace effort. It’s still unclear whether they have done a brilliant or poor job.

“They have also been criticized for handling the pandemic, for example, in the face of China’s lack of transparency and willingness to cooperate,” said Urdal.

He added that although the BLM movement organizes protests against police violence toward Black people, BLM protests have led to confrontations and violence.

Another question would be who exactly would receive an award on behalf of the BLM movement,” said Urdal.

As for a prize for Greta Thunberg, Urdal stated, “No, I doubt it, even though she makes a big effort.”

Predicting the winner

Urdal noted that gambling companies are looking for income, and so, they have to feature candidates on the potential Nobel Peace Prize winners list that people know.

“Because of this, we see Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin on the list,” he said.

Betting lists include several curious candidates, albeit with high odds: Meghan Markle, Michelle Obama, and footballer Marcus Rashford.

Rupert Adams of one of the UK’s largest gambling companies, William Hill, joked to the AP that guessing who will win is the world’s most difficult job. His company had the right pick just once in 21 years – when Malala Yousafzai was awarded the prize in 2014.

Perhaps previous Rafto Prize (awarded for distinguished human rights acts) winners are a better indicator.

Four former Rafto Prize winners have since been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize: Aung San Suu Kyi from Myanmar, José Ramos-Horta from East Timor, Kim Dae-jung from South Korea, and Shirin Ebadi from Iran.

This year, the Rafto Foundation announced that the non-profit organization Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG) would receive the 2021 Rafto Prize. The group will receive it for work in obtaining comprehensive documentation of human rights violations.

Source: ©️ NTB Scanpix / #NorwayTodayTravel

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