The Nobel Peace Prize has drawn another record number of nominations this year, with 278 candidates proposed. That’s up from the 259 nominations put forth last year, which also set a record.
Among candidates for the 2014 Nobel Peace Price is a creative choice from China, put forth by Norway’s former agriculture minister, Trygve Slagsvold Vedum. Norway and China are still stuck in a diplomatic freeze over the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s decision to award the prize in 2010 to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. Four years later, Liu remains in prison and relations between China and Norway are cold indeed, but Vedum’s nomination, if successful, might warm them up.
He thinks the Nobel Peace Prize should be shared by agricultural researcher Yuan Longping of China and Mankombu Sambasivan Swaminathan of India, an internationally renown genetics expert and agricultural researcher. Both men, Vedum argues, have made heroic strides in improving the production of food. Access to food and water are fundamental human rights and a basis for peace and development, Vedum told newspaper Aftenposten recently.
“If there’s unrest around food, there’s unrest around everything,” said Vedum, who, as a member of the Norwegian Parliament, is among politicians around the world who are eligible to make Nobel nominations. His nomination is “interesting,” according to Stein Tønnesson of the peace research institute PRIO in Oslo, not least because it would likely be viewed positively in China and may prompt them finally to view the Peace Prize differently. If anything, they wouldn’t likely prevent Yuan from collecting it should he win as they did with Liu.
There are, of course 277 other nominations including, according to state broadcaster NRK, the new Pope Frans, gay rights activists in both Russia and Uganda (both of which have recently passed controversial anti-gay laws) and whistleblower Edward Snowden. The Nobel Committee never identifies actual candidates but those making nominations can publicize them.
Around 30-40 names will be selected from the 278 nominations, and then that will be whittled down to 10 serious candidates that the committee, made up of former Norwegian politicians and other public figures, will then evaluate. A decision will be announced in early October and the prize awarded on December 10, the anniversary of prize benefactor Alfred Nobel’s death.