The Norwegian Nobel Committee ignored warnings from Chinese authorities and announced Friday that it was awarding the Nobel Peace Prize for 2010 to the jailed Chinese activist Liu Xiaobo for his long struggle for human rights in China.
Committee leader Thorbjørn Jagland, a former Norwegian prime minister for the Labour Party, had told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) earlier in the day that he thought the prize would spark debate. He’s probably right, not least since China had warned that a Nobel Peace Prize for Liu would damage Norwegian-Chinese relations even though the Norwegian government has no power over the Nobel Committee.
Jagland also told NRK that the choice of this year’s winner was unanimous among the committee’s five members and that he had identified the winner “early” in the selection process as a strong candidate.
The prize will be formally awarded at the traditional Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo on December 10, the anniversary of the death of Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel. His will set up the Nobel Prizes, funded by his vast estate.
The prizes in other fields such as literature and medicine are awarded by special committees set up in Sweden, but Nobel wanted a committee “of five persons” to be appointed by the Norwegian Parliament to award the Peace Prize. Norway was still part of a union with Sweden at the time, and it’s believed Nobel wanted to support the Norwegians, who already were agitating to break out of the union and become a sovereign nation with its own foreign policy and, ultimately, constitutional monarchy.
The current committee that meets to evaluate nominations for the Nobel Prize (237 this year) and select a winner is made up of Jagland, Inger-Marie Ytterhorn, a former Member of Parliament (MP) for the conservative Progress Party; Kaci Kullmann Five, a former government minister and leader of the Conservative Party in Norway; Sissel Rønbeck, a former government minister for the Labour Party; and Ågot Valle, a former MP for the Socialist Left party.
Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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