OSLO: Media watchdogs, Belarus opposition leaders, and climate activists such as Greta Thunberg are among individuals expected to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.
The coveted peace award, the pinnacle of the Nobel season, usually sparks a frenzy of conjecture.
However, predicting the winner is a massive guessing game.
There is no public shortlist, and only the number of nominations – 329 this year – is disclosed. The identity of the candidates are likewise kept hidden for the next 50 years.
The renowned award’s reputation has suffered in recent years as one of its former laureates, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, got involved in a conflict.
Another, Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi, has been accused of supporting the murder of Rohingya Muslims.
Experts believe that there has been little progress in global peace efforts this year.
As a consequence, observers believe that possible laureates may include media watchdogs Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), or the International Fact-Checking Network, as well as anti-corruption champion Transparency International.
The independent media is “both directly contributing to holding governments and movements responsible” and combating the “growing challenge (presented by) false news and disinformation,” according to Henrik Urdal, director of the Oslo Peace Research Institute.
- Ukraine’s opponents, as well as climate activists –
The nonviolent opposition in Belarus, which has protested the August 2020 election victory that handed strongman President Alexander Lukashenko a sixth term, has also been suggested as a potential winner.
Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who became the major opposition candidate when her activist husband was imprisoned, is leading the nonviolent opposition from Lithuania, where she is in exile.
The 39-year-old may win on her alone or with two other opposition leaders, Maria Kolesnikova and Veronika Tsepkalo.
“It would be a powerful message emphasising the importance of women, democracy, and nonviolence all at the same time,” said Peter Wallensteen, a Swedish professor and conflict researcher.
“A medal for Svetlana would indirectly be like criticism for Putin,” Nobel historian Asle Sveen observed, noting that Russia is the major supporter of the Belarus government.
Sveen, on the other hand, said that he would bet more on Greta Thunberg, a young Swedish climate activist.
Honoring climate-related efforts would send a powerful statement only weeks before the important COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, and two months after the UN’s grim climate report.
On Tuesday, climate model research was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics.
“It’s the most critical problem right now,” Sveen remarked.
In the same spirit, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) and its Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa have been mentioned as potential laureates.
- Will the ceremony be held in person or online? –
While it was previously thought to have a legitimate chance at the prize in the midst of the epidemic, the World Health Organization has been hindered by controversy and the delayed delivery of vaccines to impoverished nations via the Covax sharing programme.
It is, however, still a betting favourite.
According to its secretary, Olav Njolstad, the COVID-19 epidemic had minimal effect on the nominations presented to the Nobel committee in Oslo this year.
“You’d think so, but we can count them on one hand,” he told AFP.
Other names creating attention this year, though to a lesser degree, are the Norwegian Peace Council’s favourite, the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, prominent Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny, and departing German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Last year, the World Food Programme (WFP), the largest worldwide humanitarian organisation combating hunger, received the award.
The opulent dinner in Oslo in December honouring the Nobel Peace Prize winner was postponed last year because to the epidemic and may be cancelled again this year.
The Stockholm event honouring the victors in science and literature has already been cancelled for the second year in a row, with the laureates expected to accept their awards in their home countries.
The Nobel Institute in Oslo will decide whether to conduct its celebration online or in person in the following days.