Pope Francis and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are considered permanent candidates. But this time, too, it was not enough for them to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
Considered arguably the most prestigious international award, this year's Nobel Peace Prize goes to Nadia Murad, a UN special envoy living in Germany who was enslaved and raped by IS, and Denis Mukwege, a Congolese doctor. They are honored for their commitment against sexual violence as a weapon in wars and armed conflicts.
Of all people, the inventor of dynamite, Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, donated the prize, which is being awarded for the 99th time this year. The first time the prize is awarded. The chemist and inventor, who died in 1896, had stipulated in his will that the interest from his foundation should go annually in five equal shares to "those who have rendered the greatest benefit to mankind during the past year".
Criticism: definition of peace too broad
Traditionally, the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded on 10. December, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel's death – unlike the other Nobel Prizes, which are presented in the Norwegian capital Oslo. The Swedish Nobel Committee is also not responsible for the award, but the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which is elected by parliament. In 1901, the award was given for the first time – to Henry Dunant, founder of the Red Cross, and Frederic Passy, founder of the French Peace Society.
Nobel Peace Prizes have often been controversial: Names such as Begin, Le Duc Tho, Kissinger, Arafat, Peres or Obama repeatedly raised the question of whether it is right to award active politicians who were driving actors in a war. By contrast, prizes for human rights activists and benefactors, including Mother Teresa, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the anti-landmine campaign, Amnesty International and Polish trade unionist Lech Walesa, were largely uncriticized.
The Nobel Peace Prizes awarded to Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Bank (2006) or to the Kenyan Wangari Maathai (2004), who was called the "Mother of Trees" because of her tree-planting activities, were also criticized. The criticism was directed against a very broad definition of peace.
19 times the award has been suspended
From 1901 to 2017, the award was given to a total of 131 individuals and organizations. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been a laureate three times (1917, 1944 and 1963) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees twice (1954 and 1981). Honored 88 men and 16 women. 19 times the award has been suspended – in times of world wars, for example, or because no suitable candidate presented themselves, as was the case for the last time in 1972.
Several times the Nobel Committee has honored UN organizations or individuals with the Nobel Peace Prize. Among them was posthumous Swedish U.N. Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold, who died in an accident while trying to mediate in the 1961 Congolese civil war. In 2001, the committee honored the UN as a whole and Secretary General Kofi Annan.
Four Germans are also among those honored: Gustav Stresemann in 1926 for concluding the Locarno Treaties with former wartime enemies in the West, Ludwig Quidde in 1927 for Franco-German reconciliation, journalist and writer Carl von Ossietzky in 1935 who was persecuted by the Nazis, and German Chancellor Willy Brandt in 1971.
Seven clergymen and religious honored
Four U.S. presidents have also made it to the highest honors: Jimmy Carter in 2002, Republican Theodore Roosevelt, Democrat Woodrow Wilson and Barack Obama (2009). In 2007, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore also received the award. With 21 awards, the USA is at the top of the nation ranking – only surpassed by the international organizations.
Seven Christian clergy and religious are also among the honorees, including, in addition to Mother Teresa, the Catholic bishop in East Timor, Carlos Felipe Ximenes Belo, Martin Luther King, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Belgian religious Dominique Georges Pire. Youngest laureate was child rights activist Malala Yousafzai (17) from Pakistan in 2014.
The amount of the prize money depends on the current assets of the Nobel Foundation. This year, the prize is 9 million crowns (about 860.000 euros) endowed.
By Christoph Arens