As speculation swirls around who will win the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, two Oslo-based researchers have knocked Colombian leaders off their lists of candidates. Colombian voters’ “shocking” decision to turn down their leaders’ Norwegian-brokered peace plan means they’re now “simply off any credible list,” says Kristian Berg Harpviken, director of the Oslo peace research institute PRIO.
Asle Sveen, an historian who co-wrote the history of the Nobel Peace Prize, agrees. “I guess they have a Plan B,” Sveen told foreign correspondents at a meeting in Oslo Monday morning. He agrees that while the Colombian government and FARC guerrillas were the most likely candidates for this year’s Peace Prize, “they’re entirely unlikely now.”
Sunday’s referendum on the peace plan for Colombia engaged less than 30 percent of eligible voters who narrowly defeated it. The vote was a huge blow not only to Colombians involved but also to the Norwegian government and other countries that have spent years trying to end more than 50 years of killing, kidnappings and other violence. They’ll be regrouping and making an attempt to improve the peace plan, to make it appeal to more of those Colombians voting on it, but both Sveen and Harpviken discounted any possibility they might still win the Peace Prize as a gesture of encouragement from the Nobel Committee. Neither think the committee would so blatantly defy the results of a referendum that’s been accepted by Colombia’s government.
That left Sveen and Harpviken turning to the other candidates on their lists, with both ranking Svetlana Gannusjkina high. She’s a 73-year-old human rights advocate in Russia who has fronted the campaign for the rights of especially refugees and migrants in Russia. “She has played a major role in the Russian context,” said Harpviken, who thinks the Nobel Committee may choose to “lift up” her contributions and make them better known to the world.
Both Harpviken and Sveen agreed that the Nobel Committee may feel a need to turn attention to “the Russian situation” at present. Harpviken stressed that after several years of Peace Prizes going to organizations, it’s time that an individual be honoured.
Whistle-blower Edward Snowden has been nominated once again and floated as a candidate, but neither Sveen nor Harpviken ranked him very high. “Many committee members would find it hard to sympathize with a man whom the US views as a traitor,” Sveen said. Harpviken said he wouldn’t be “so categorical,” but he also think Snowden’s candidacy would be a “hard sell.” While the committee is independent, its members are chosen to reflect the political make-up in the Norwegian Parliament, which considers the US among its strongest allies.
Nor do either Sveen or Harpviken think Pope Francis is a top candidate, because he’s “just doing his job” at advocating peace around the world, according to Sveen. Their other more favoured candidates include those who were instrumental in the Iranian nuclear agreement, such as Ernest Moniz and Ali Akbar Salehi.
The committee may just pull “another white rabbit out of the hat,” Sveen said.
For an account of Harpviken’s candidates click here (external link to PRIO’s website) and for Sveen’s candidates, and the reasons behind them, click here (external link to the Nobeliana organization that follows and analyzes the Nobel Prizes. Sveen has since dropped the Colombians from his list.)
For a look at how critics of earlier Nobel Peace Prize winners evaluate candidates, click here (external link to the Nobel Peace Prize Watch website).