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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Nobel committee elects young leader

UPDATED: The Norwegian Nobel Committee, responsible for awarding the Nobel Peace Prize, has elected its youngest leader ever: Jørgen Watne Frydnes, age 39, who led the revival of the Utøya terror site and first joined the committee in 2021 as one of the Labour Party’s choices.

The current Norwegian Nobel Committee that chooses the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize: (from left) Anne Enger, Olav Njølstad (secretary), Gry Larsen, Kristin Clemet, Asle Toje (deputy leader) and new leader Jørgen Watne Frydnes. PHOTO: ©Nobel Prize Outreach/Agnete Brun

According to the terms of benefactor Alfred Nobel’s will, the Norwegian Nobel Committee is elected by members of the Norwegian Parliament and thus reflects its political make-up. Labour currently holds the single largest delegation, giving it the right to hold two of the five seats on the committee. It chose Frydnes, as it had the committee’s former leader, Berit Reiss-Andersen.

All members currently hold six-year terms that are staggered to maintain a mix of experience on the committee. Reiss-Andersen stepped down at the end of last year after a total of 12 years on the committee, six of them as its leader.

Her seat was filled by former Labour party politician Gry Larsen for the period 2024 through 2029. Larsen, age 48, served as a political adviser for then-Foreign (now Prime) Minister Jonas Gahr Støre from 2005-2009 and later as a state secretary in the foreign ministry. She was also a leader of Labour’s youth organization AUF from 2002-2006 and went on to become secretary general for the humanitarian organization CARE Norge. She currently leads Grieg Maturitas, the sustainability division of shipping company Grieg Gruppen.

Jørgen Watne Frydnes is, at age 39, the youngest person to ever lead the Norwegian Nobel Committee. PHOTO: ©Nobel Prize Outreach/Agnete Brun

Frydnes, meanwhile, was elected by his fellow members to lead the committee and will thus be the one announcing the next Peace Prize winner in October. Frydnes led the effort to transform the site of a right-wing extremist’s terrorist attacks on the Labour Party goverment in 2011 and later went on to become managing director of Utøya AS, responsible for rebuilding efforts on the island of Utøya northwest of Oslo. It was where the terrorist’s massacre killed 69 people during the annual summer camp of Labour’s youth group, after he’d killed eight people by bombing Norway’s government headquarters.

Frydnes thus led work to transform Utøya into a center for democracy that now provides a venue for knowledge and discussion while also still hosting the Labour youth group AUF’s summer camp. Frydnes also leads the Norwegian PEN organization committed to advancing freedom of expression. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Oslo and a master’s degree in international politics from the University of York in England.

Frydnes spent 12 years working for Leger Uten Grenser, Norway’s chapter of Medicins Sans Frontieres, before joining PEN and calls himself “an engaged world citizen.” He’s clearly committed to human rights and is keen to hail the sorts of people and organizations “who have changed the world.” He told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) that he wants to make both the Peace Prize and the winners “more visible” and looks forward to speak on behalf of both the prize and the committee that chooses a winner from more than 300 nominations every year.

Other members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee include deputy leader Asle Toje, appointed by the Progress Party for a second term ending in 2029; Anne Enger, selected by the Center Party and also in her second term through 2026; and Kristin Clemet, selected by the Conservative Party and also serving through 2026. staff



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