The Norwegian Nobel Committee met on Tuesday to start sorting through the 276 nominations that have been submitted for the Nobel Peace Prize this year. The number of the candidates is the second-highest in history.
The committee, which also elected a new leader on Tuesday, never reveals who’s been nominated for the Peace Prize, but it did reveal that of the 276 nominations coming in, 227 are people, and 49 are organizations.
Those nominating Peace Prize candidates are free to reveal their candidates, however, and Pope Francis seemed to lead the list. Other candidates included whistle-blower Edward Snowden and the United Nations for its Millennium Goals.
Flemming Rose, editor of Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, has also been nominated, by Michael Tetzschner, a Member of Parliament for the Conservative Party in Norway. Tetzschner noted that it was Rose who made the decision to print the caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed in 2005 that set off international debate but also recognition of the right to freedom of expression. Tetzschner called Rose “a consistent defender of freedom of expression, also when it has personal costs.”
Another nomination, from among others former Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu, went to the organizers of “One billions acts of peace,” which urges ordinary people to make small efforts to improve the world. The organizers’ message is to contribute towards creating a more peaceful world by, for example, giving books to homeless people, inviting someone in difficult economic straits to dinner, or making other gestures of generosity. Newssite Business Insider reported the nomination to the peace project initiators of “One billion acts of peace,” Dawn Engle and Ivan Suvanjieff.
Also nominated is the Catholic priest Mussie Zerai, whose organization Agenzia Habeshia has fought for the rights of North African boat refugees in Italy. Another perennial candidate is the Congolese gynecologist Dr Denis Mukwege, who has helped thousands of victims of rape in ethnic and political conflicts in Africa.
The Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi is also a candidate, after he was sentenced to 1,000 whippings, 10 years in prison, a large fine and a 10-year ban on travel after promoting human rights on his blog and questioning whether a local university was a den for potential terrorists. Badawi’s punishment has sparked outrage around the world, including ongoing protests outside the Saudi Arabian embassy in Oslo.