18 October 2012

Questioning the credibility of the Nobel Peace Prize

When this year's Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the European Union, the first pundits responded by saying "well, at least it wasn't the Nobel Prize in Economics." Now a more salient criticism has been leveled at the committee, by Norwegian lawyer and Nobel historian Fredrik S. Heffermehl.
For years, Heffermehl has been writing books and penning opinion pieces in the Norwegian media arguing that the country's Nobel Committee, in charge of awarding the Nobel Peace Prize each year, is failing to follow the last will and testament of the Swedish industrialist whose fortune served as the basis for the prize.

Nobel's will states that the prize should be given to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses"...
Fredrik Heffermehl: In the beginning, the Norwegian politicians, whose job it is to select the Nobel Committee, were eager to find the right peace-minded individuals working for a global peace order, which is what Nobel wanted to support.

But sometime after 1948, in the wake of the Second World War, this eagerness dissipated. Today, the Committee is very different and I would say consists of Norwegian politicians who accept a world system of competing military forces, the direct opposite of the core purpose of Nobel´s Peace Prize..

FH: The military sector in Norway was and is a strong sector and the reality today is that a majority politicians favouring a strong military defence are in control of a prize, which was initially meant for their opponents...

FH: To be honest, I feel less interested every year – the prizes have less and less to do with Nobel. The politicians are using Nobel’s name to promote their own ideas, they do not understand that Nobel saw the costly and dangerous threat to human survival that would develop if the world failed to curb militarism. His desire for a global peace order is a much more urgent, mandatory need today than when he wrote his will.
The above excerpted from The Local (Sweden's News in English), where note is also made of the fact that the previous prize was awarded to dronemaster Barack Obama.


  1. Lots of commetary over here in the EU regarding this prize, both pro and con.

    My own thought is that while the Obama Nobel was indefensible -- unless the committee was hoping that the political pressure of such an unearned, proactive prize would influence Obama's decision-making, in which case, good try but dismal failure -- this one actually makes some sense. Even the most history-hating folk know about a couple of things called WWI and WWII, though they may not know anything about the fierce nationalistic pride, conflicts, ancient feuds, competing treaties etc. that made the first WW inevitable…or that the second was directly caused by the ending of the first. Before those "world" wars were many, many other regional ones. European history is relentlessly bloody.

    That pride and those ancient feuds/conflicts/wars, which had gone on for literally thousands of years, were rather amazingly subsumed into a continent-wide peaceful organization in the last century. And there are other nations actually vying for entrance into this peaceful organization. Which is kind of mind-blowing when you think about it.

    WWII started just two decades after WWI. It has now been nearly seven decades since the end of WWII, and the members of the EU are still at peace. Not only that, but they're actually working together to try to salvage the union from the current economic crisis. I think this is phenomenal, and all the more so when I see, via this crisis, just how shallowly those national prides and prejudices are still buried (if they could even be called "buried" at this point). The EU could fall apart into warring nations very easily. But it was created to provide an economic incentive against that very thing.

    I'm certain there were other extremely deserving individuals suggested for this award, and I agree that the Peace Prize is supposed to be for an individual, not a political/economic union. But I also think that this prize does conform to the spirit of Nobel's will.

  2. I've seen the results of war and the horrible consequences. Peace, combined with a certain level of liberty, is one of the most worthwhile pursuits in the human canon.

    But what if Nobel was wrong?

    Not in his goal, but in his method of pursuit...
    I'm not saying he is, but just... what if?

  3. You need proof that the Nobel Peace prize is a fraud? Two words: Henry Kissinger.


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