United Kingdom

The war in Ukraine again dominates the Nobel year


From the Secretary General of NATO to the Ukrainian President, the war in Ukraine dominates the public names submitted by Tuesday’s UKTN for the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize.

The list of nominees submitted to the committee is kept secret for at least 50 years in accordance with the Nobel statutes.

But those eligible to nominate people — including former laureates, legislators and ministers from any country in the world, and some university professors — are free to disclose the name of the person or organization they have proposed.

Most of the names made public so far are either involved in the nearly year-long conflict raging in Ukraine or opponents of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

However, experts warn that Norway’s Nobel Committee may be tempted to look in a different direction when it announces this year’s prize in October.

A Norwegian Green Party MP, Lan Marie Berg, said on Tuesday that she had nominated Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg – who was believed to have been on the list for several years – and her Ugandan counterpart Vanessa Nakate.

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Others known to have been nominated include Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, proposed by the speaker of Pakistan’s upper house of parliament, for his “tireless” efforts to resolve the Ukrainian crisis.

Lawmaker Christian Tybring-Gjedde, of Norway’s Populist Party, hinted on Facebook shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 that he would nominate Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

He also introduced fellow Norwegian Jens Stoltenberg, who he says “deserves the award for his exemplary work as Secretary General of NATO at a difficult time for the alliance: a relentless and unprovoked offensive against a peaceful neighbour”.

Others known to be nominated are imprisoned opponents of Putin: anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny, who was the victim of a poisoning attack, and journalist and political activist Vladimir Kara-Murza, who says he survived two poisonings.

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“We now know that the basis for this war is a Russian regime based on corruption and oppression,” said Ingjerd Schou, the Norwegian legislator who nominated Kara-Murza.

Kara-Murza “is taking part in the main political struggle to end the war in Ukraine and ensure future peace in Europe,” she told Norway’s NTB agency.

– ‘Eurocentric’ fears –

The two previous Nobel Peace Prizes have been widely interpreted as direct criticism of Putin.

Last year, the prize was shared by the Russian human rights organization Memorial – which was disbanded by Moscow – the Ukrainian Center for Civil Liberties (CCL) and imprisoned Belarusian human rights lawyer Ales Bialiatski.

The trio represents the three nations at the center of the war in Ukraine, all of which have criticized them.

In 2021, another thorn in the side of the Kremlin, Dmitry Muratov, editor-in-chief of leading independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, shared the award with Filipino Maria Ressa for their fight for freedom of expression in their respective countries.

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However, the head of the Oslo Peace Research Institute, Henrik Urdal, said it was unlikely that the Nobel Committee would fire another salvo at Putin in 2023 because of the risk of appearing “Eurocentric”.

“I doubt they would award a third prize in a row towards Russia,” he told UKTN.

“It was difficult for the commission to do otherwise last year because the conflict in Ukraine was so important and dominant,” he said.

“But it is also necessary to highlight other international issues in other parts of the world,” Urdal added.

Each year, several hundred nominees are proposed for the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2022 there were 343 nominees.