Nobel Committee elects new leader

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The Norwegian Nobel Committee has elected Berit Reiss-Andersen as its new leader, to replace the late Kaci Kullmann Five. Reiss-Andersen has been serving as the committee’s acting leder since Five died of cancer in February.

Berit Reiss-Andersen also led the last Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in December, when Kaci Kullmann Five was too ill to attend. PHOTO: NRK screen grab

The board held a meeting this week at which formal changes were made on the committee that chooses the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize. Five, a former leader of the Conservative Party, had led the committee since 2015, after parliamentary elections in 2013 ushered in a conservative majority that thus changed its composition. The committee’s membership is supposed to reflect the composition of the Norwegian Parliament, under the terms of Peace Prize benefactor Alfred Nobel’s will.

Five’s death in February left not only a vacancy on the committee but the leadership position open after just two years. Reiss-Andersen, who represents the Labour Party on the committee, had already been named as deputy leader under Five, so she now has taken over as leader.

That’s subject to change again, when the Parliament once again decides the committee’s make-up for the period from 2018 to 2020. That will also be after the September election, when the make-up of Parliament will change as well.

Reiss-Andersen, age 62, is an attorney and former leader of the Norwegian Bar Association. She also served as a state secretary for the Labour Party in the Justice Ministry from 1996-97. Labour chose her to be a member of the Nobel Committee in 2012.

The committee, which elects its own leader, also elected Henrik Syse as new deputy leader. Syse, age 51, is a philosopher and researcher who also was appointed by the Conservatives in 2015.

Reserve member of the committee, Tone Jørstad, was elevated to fill the vacancy left by Five’s death. Jørstad is a longtime educator and former director of the Falstadsenter in Levanger, which serves as a memorial to prisoners of war and a center for human rights. It was established in connection with the 50th anniversary of Norway’s liberation from the Nazi German occupation and opened in 2006 on the site of the former Falstad prisoner of war camp run by the Nazis in the 1940s.

Other members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee include Thorbjørn Jagland of the Labour Party, who also heads the Council of Europe, and Inger-Marie Ytterhorn, a former politician for the Progress Party.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund