Tag Archives: nobel peace prize

Can Greta Thunberg win the Nobel Peace Prize?

Tomorrow, Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg could become the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, being the bookmakers’ favorite among the other 300 candidates.

Credit Wikipedia Commons

The 16-year-old has already received Amnesty International’s top honor and the Right Livelihood Award, sometimes dubbed the “alternative Peace Nobel.” Thunberg stressed that while the award would be “a recognition for this movement,” she and her supporters were not “doing this to get awards and prizes”.

The teenage Swedish activist first grabbed the world’s attention in August 2018 by skipping school and standing outside the Swedish Parliament to seek a stronger response to climate change. In a little more than a year, she has galvanized millions of young people around the world to take part in demonstrations to raise awareness for action on climate change. She made global headlines in late September when she lambasted world leaders at the UN climate summit in New York.

At the moment, she seems like the favorite to win — she is the bookies’ favorite to scoop the prize, with London-based betting company Coral putting her at 1/2 odds.

But the teenager faces competition from world leaders. According to London-based online betting company Betfair, Abiy Ahmed, the Ethiopian Prime Minister who brought an end to his country’s conflict with Eritrea, is the second most likely candidate to win.

Other contenders include Raoni Metuktire, the indigenous Brazilian leader and environmentalist who led a campaign to protect the Amazon, and Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand. Plus, organizations such as Reporters Without Borders also rank high in the list.

Opinions from the experts

Predicting the winner is always a challenge since the Norwegian Nobel Committee never reveals the names of the nominees. All that is known is that a total of 301 individuals and organizations have been nominated this year.

For Henrik Urdal, director of the Peace Research Institute in Oslo (Prio), the chance of Thunberg’s winning is “extremely unlikely.” He argued that while some say climate change might aggravate conflicts, in his view there is still no consensus on whether it is actually the cause of armed conflict. He also said her tender age could make the prize more of a burden than a reward.

“The only way I could see that happen is that she would be part of a shared prize like Malala,” Urdal said, referring to Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, who shared the 2014 prize – at age 17 – with Indian children’s rights activist Kailash Satyarthi.

Norwegian historian Asle Sveen echoed that view.

“Of course, she is now an international star, in conflict with Donald Trump, and she put the searchlight on climate change better than anyone else,” he said. “What’s against her is that she is only 16 years old,” he continued.

On the other hand, Dan Smith, director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri), believes Thunberg should be considered a “serious candidate” and that climate change is linked to conflict.

“First of all, I think that what she has done over the past year is extraordinary,” Smith said. “I think that climate change is an issue which is strongly related to security and peace.”

Several recent studies have shown that climate change is a threat to world peace, with the Pentagon officially calling climate change a “threat to national security” — a feeling echoed by several other countries. In this regard, Greta Thunberg would be justified in receiving the prize.

Last year’s Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to former ISIS sex slave Nadia Murad and Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege “for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.”

Chinese disident wins Nobel Peace Prize

In a slapp across Beijing’s face, the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to imprisoned Chinese scholar Liu Xiaobo, for “his long and nonviolent struggle for fundamental human rights in China”. The decision of the Nobel jury goes totally against the Chinese government, who claims Liu Xiaobo is nothing more than a criminal. The Nobel Committee chairman, Thorbjoern Jagland spoke his mind about this decision.

“China has become a big power in economic terms as well as political terms, and it is normal that big powers should be under criticism”

What’s even more interesting is that during the time he made this statement the broadcast on the BBC and CNN went black; also, there have been reports that text messages containing “Liu Xiaobo” were blocked and not being sent, which is probably the work of the Chinese government – who has also taken an angry official stance, as you could easily guess:

“To give the Peace Prize to such a person is completely contrary to the purpose of the award and a blasphemy of the Peace Prize”.

They also said this will probably damage the relationship between China and Norway. As for his wife, who is supposed to be free, her house was surrounded by police cars and she wasn’t allowed to meet reporters, giving statements via text messages. She added that she will give the good news to her husband on Saturday, because theoretically he doesn’t have any way of finding out (but I seriously doubt he hasn’t already).

“I am grateful to the Nobel Committee for selecting my husband, Liu Xiaobo, to be the recipient of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. It is a true honor for him and one for which I know he would say he is not worthy … I hope that the international community will take this opportunity to call on the Chinese government to press for my husband’s release.”

A literary critic, Liu Xiaobo was imprisoned several times for protesting against the Beijing regime. Last year he was convicted just on Christmas day, when pretty much every foreign reporter was away, to 11 years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power”. The evidence against him was a series of essays he wrote; he is currently held in a prison cell with five ordinary criminals.

In January, a group including Vaclav Havel and Peace Prize laureates Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama co-signed an article saying Liu deserved the price without a doubt, for “his bravery and clarity of thought about China’s future”. While it is not uncommon for the Nobel Peace Prize to be awarded to someone who has been previously incarcerated (take Nelson Mandela for the most famous example), it is indeed very rare for it to be given to someone currently in jail. Only German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky and Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi can claim this distinction.

What’s ironic is that this is the first time a Chinese who hasn’t left the country gets the awards; physicists Frank Yang and Lee Tsung-Dao and novelist Gao Xingjian won the prize for work they did outside China. The bad news is that this will probably infuriate Beijing even more and we may very well see more human rights or pro democracy activists being arrested. Imagine that; human rights, democracy… who knows what they’ll think of next ?