The Bumpy Road Of The Nobel Peace Prize

The Bumpy Road Of The Nobel Peace Prize

It is time to reflect on Alfred Nobel's dream and how the Norwegian Nobel Committee's myopic actions and biases have eroded the award's prestige.

tippinsights Editorial Board

It’s October. The month with days that mark United Nations Day, World Mental Health Day, and International Day of Non-Violence, to name a few. It is also the time when the prestigious Nobel Prizes are announced.

Businessman and entrepreneur Alfred Nobel who established the prizes in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and peace, stated that it be awarded to “those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind.” Other than during the two World Wars, the Nobel committee has been doing his bidding since 1901.

In its 120 year history, the Nobel Prizes have created an impressive list of Who’s Who in their respective fields. Naturally, there have been many hits and misses, some more glaring than the others, especially when it comes to the Nobel Peace Prize.

For instance, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, 2nd October, is observed as the International Day of Non-Violence. He was the leader of the Indian independence movement and the man who pioneered the philosophy and strategy of non-violence in the struggle against an oppressor. Yet, the man who showed the world the path and process of peaceful agitation and practiced ‘ahimsa,’ the path of non-violence, is “the missing laureate” according to the official website of the Nobel Prize. While it is argued that Gandhi was not conferred the honor because he was assassinated before the Prize could be announced, it does not hold much water.

The Nobel Committee actions have confounded many, time and again. They conferred Mikhail Gorbachev, the President of the former USSR, with the Peace Prize for ending the Cold War, while ignoring the other half of the process, the U.S. President Ronald Reagan.

In 2007, Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and former U.S. Vice President Al Gore “for their efforts to obtain and disseminate information about the climate challenge.” While climate change is a hot topic, one must wonder how disseminating information about the topic promoted world peace.

The Nobel Committee has been critiqued for its biases and optimism frequently. For decades, the Prizes were conferred only on Americans and Europeans. In 1960, the Nobel recognized an African, and then, more than a decade later, an Asian was honored with the Prize.

Many of the Peace Prizes were awarded in the expectation that a (peace) agreement would bear fruit and not on the actual results. Recent recipient Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia comes to mind. The Committee also jumped the gun in the case of President Obama, who was announced the winner days after taking office. Many termed it “wishful.” Prophetically, Obama spent his entire two terms as President overseeing wars in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, and Pakistan.

As hoped, many of the Laureates do not uphold the spirit of the Prize. Many Peace Prize recipients have chequered pasts denying massacres, involvement in horrible wars, and questionable views on world peace to begin with.

In his will, Alfred Nobel’s stipulated that the Nobel Peace Prize go to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.” The spirit of the Prize is as valid today as it was more than a century ago. The onus lies in finding a deserving candidate.

TIPP Takes

China Surprises U.S. With Hypersonic Missile Test, FT Reports

China Surprises U.S. With Hypersonic Missile Test, FT Reports

The Financial Times reported that China tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile in August, showing a capability that caught U.S. intelligence by surprise, citing five unnamed sources.

The report said the Chinese military launched a rocket carrying a hypersonic glide vehicle that flew through low-orbit space, circling the globe before cruising towards its target, which it missed by about two dozen miles.

"The test showed that China had made astounding progress on hypersonic weapons and was far more advanced than U.S. officials realized," the report said, citing people briefed on the intelligence.

The United States and Russia are also developing hypersonic missiles. Last month North Korea said it had test-fired a newly-developed hypersonic missile.

At a 2019 parade, China showcased advancing weaponry including its hypersonic missile, known as the DF-17.  Ballistic missiles fly into outer space before returning on steep trajectories at higher speeds.

Hypersonic weapons are difficult to defend against because they fly towards targets at lower altitudes but can achieve more than five times the speed of sound - or about 6,200 km per hour (3,850 mph).

Intelligence Chiefs Of S. Korea, U.S., Japan To Meet In Seoul Next Week: Source

Avril Haines, the U.S. director of national intelligence
Avril Haines, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence

The intelligence chiefs of South Korea, the United States, and Japan will meet in Seoul early next week for closed-door talks on North Korea.

Park Jie-won, head of South Korea's National Intelligence Service (NIS), will sit down with Avril Haines, the U.S. director of national intelligence, and Hiroaki Takizawa, Japan's cabinet intelligence director, during their trips to Seoul next week.

This will be the first meeting for the three spy chiefs since May this year.

The three are likely to focus on North Korean issues, in light of South Korean President Moon Jae-in's proposal for a declaration to formally end the Korean War and the subsequent push by Seoul and Washington to bring Pyongyang back to dialogue.

Iranian Court Upholds New Jail Term For Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

The British Iranian woman was handed a new one-year jail sentence after spending five years in prison.

An Iranian court has upheld a verdict sentencing Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe to another year in prison in Tehran, prolonging a detention that began in 2016.  According to her lawyer, the appeals court upheld a verdict issued in April.

The 43-year-old Iranian British woman was found guilty of spreading "propaganda against the establishment" when she participated in a protest in front of the Iranian embassy in London in 2009.  The court also upheld a one-year ban on travel abroad, meaning she cannot leave Iran to join her husband and six-year-old daughter for nearly two years.

Iran arrested Zaghari-Ratcliffe at the Tehran airport in April 2016. She was returning home in Britain after visiting her family and handed a five-year jail sentence for plotting the overthrow of Iran's government.

Rights groups have accused Tehran of using the dual-national as a bargaining chip for money and influence in negotiations with the West.

ASEAN To Exclude Myanmar's Military Leader From Oct. Summit

Myanmar junta leader Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing attends a conference on international security in Moscow on June
Myanmar junta leader Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing attends a conference on international security in Moscow on June 

ASEAN foreign ministers agreed to invite a nonpolitical representative from Myanmar to the regional group's summit later this month effectively excluding Myanmar's military leader.

The ministers of ASEAN, which has a principle of noninterference in fellow members' politics, made the unprecedented decision at an emergency online meeting Friday, amid a lack of cooperation from the junta, especially its failure to accept a visit by a special ASEAN envoy on Myanmar.

Russia Marks Record 12-Month Population Decline


Russia has undergone its largest peacetime population decline in recorded history over the last 12 months, according to an analysis of official government statistics.

Russia's natural population – determined by the difference between the country's death rate and birth rate – declined by 997,000 between October 2020 and September 2021, demographer Alexei Raksha calculated.

The sharp fall comes as Russia, which has one of the world's highest Covid-19 death tolls, battles a fourth wave of the pandemic. The country has recorded at least 660,000 excess deaths since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.


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