The Nobel Peace Prizes were established by Alfred Nobel in 1896 to recognize individuals who “have done the most or best work to promote fraternity among nations, abolition or reduction of standing armies, peace congresses or their promotion”.
Belarusian activist Ales Bialiatski, Ukraine’s Center for Civil Liberties and Russian human rights organization Memorial all shared this year’s award in recognition of their documentation of political oppression in their respective home nations.
Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
This year’s Nobel Peace Prize goes to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (“OPCW” for short). They won it “for their extensive efforts in eliminating chemical weapons.” It marks the first time ever that an organization rather than an individual won it; Norwegian Nobel Committee selected them because they enforced the first international treaty to ban entire classes of weapons; currently overseeing Syria’s arsenal destruction process as part of this work.
The committee noted that this prize serves as a reminder to nations possessing chemical weapons to destroy them, and noted that events in Syria had only served to underscore this point. They further commented that the OPCW’s mission in Syria, where its inspectors have come under sniper fire during inspections, shows their ability to perform under intense political pressure.
Ahmet Uzumcu, Director-General of the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, expressed his appreciation to reporters about OPCW’s efforts towards “disarmament”. He went on to state: “We are honored that our work has been recognized with this prestigious Nobel Peace Prize award.”
Numerous Nobel laureates offered congratulations to the OPCW for its accomplishment, such as former Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev (founder of Green Cross international advocacy group that collaborates with the OPCW). Malala Yousafzai – Pakistani teenager shot by Taliban for working towards girls’ education – also sent her congratulations.
Alfred Nobel was an esteemed chemical engineer and inventor of dynamite. But he also took an avid interest in social issues. To recognise individuals doing good work to foster fraternity among nations and abolish standing armies. One of six Nobel Prizes given each year, The Peace Prize stands out among them all as one of these awards.
Each year, a committee reviews hundreds of nominations. After narrowing them down to a shortlist and voting on its winner by majority vote, deliberations is kept secret and this year Liu Xiaobo emerged victorious; this honor led to numerous reprisals against him including arrest and imprisonment.
Other laureates have also faced controversy surrounding their selection. Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai won in 2004 for her work to preserve Africa’s forests; but Unni Turrettini, author of Betraying the Nobel Peace Prize: The Secrets and Corruption Behind the Selection of Laureates claims her victory was due to American pressure.
The Nobel Peace Prize is unique in that it can be awarded both to an institution and individuals, due to an ambiguous clause in Alfred Nobel’s will stating it can go “to any person… who has performed outstanding service towards fraternity between nations, the reduction or elimination of standing armies”. Organisations have won 12 times – International Committee of the Red Cross winning three.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf became president of Liberia and African woman to win a Nobel Prize. Under her leadership, Liberia experienced peace and economic development; women’s rights were strengthened while freedom of speech promoted; negotiations were also conducted to settle debt relief agreements with International Monetary Fund.
The Nobel Peace Prize is presented annually in Oslo, Norway to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to world peace and reconciliation. Past recipients include John Hume and David Trimble who helped end Northern Irish strife, Aung San Suu Kyi for her nonviolent fight for democracy in Burma (modern-day Myanmar) as well as Denis Mukwege and Nadiya Muse who worked to transition Tunisia after its revolution, Malala Yousafzai for her campaign for girls’ education despite being shot by Taliban members; she received her prize in 2014. Malala Yousafzai received hers in 2014 in recognition of her campaign which resulted in her campaign being shot by Taliban members despite having won it two years prior.
Although the prize is awarded to individuals, some organizations have also been recognized with this prestigious award. One such group is Human Rights Data Analysis Group from the US which monitors human rights violations globally. Other worthy candidates for recognition include research agency Forensic Architecture and investigative journalism groups Bellingcat and Lighthouse Reports that work to bring accountability for violations through rigorous, non-partisan science.
Leymah Gbowee was a Liberian peace activist who led a women’s nonviolent movement which helped end Liberia’s Second Civil War in 2003. Through her activism she played an essential part in protecting women and children during this conflict period; thus becoming an influential figure in the country’s peacebuilding process. Her story was documented in Pray the Devil Back to Hell documentary; later she published her memoir Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation at War. Additionally she served as president of Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa while serving on Liberia Truth Reconciliation Commission as well.
Gbowee was raised in a large family and in a close-knit community that cared for one another. Growing up she dreamed of becoming a doctor but when she entered college she realized this goal would likely never become reality due to its difficulty of accessing education in Liberia.
At only 25 years old, she witnessed the brutality of civil war ravaging her homeland and decided to become an activist. She joined a women’s movement which mobilized people from across religious and ethnic lines to call for peace. For her efforts she received the Nobel Peace Prize – sharing it with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Yemen-native Tawakkol Karman who have also contributed significantly towards peace and democracy in their respective nations.
Tawakkol Karman has played an instrumental role in Yemen’s 2011 pro-democracy movement, often being known as the “mother of the revolution.” Additionally, she holds several other monikers such as “iron woman” or even the “lady of Arab Spring.”
Karman’s activism attracted the ire of President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s government, which harassed and jailed her multiple times. To protest these abuses she staged weekly sit-ins in Sanaa to demand democratic reforms; throughout her activism she has also championed women’s rights as well as free expression rights.
Karman shared the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, along with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee, for her nonviolent efforts to promote peace. The prize committee recognized her commitment to upholding democracy and protecting human rights in Yemen while encouraging all countries to include women more directly in peacebuilding work.
Karman became an inspiration to young activists around the globe since becoming both the first Yemeni and second Muslim woman to win the prize. Her advocacy efforts remain active today, serving on Facebook oversight board committees and participating in Nobel Women initiatives. Though often clouded in controversy and scandal, this award remains one of the highest accolades available to individuals working towards creating change and combating injustice.
Human Rights Data Analysis Group
The Nobel committee has been unveiling prize winners across fields like chemistry and physics this week, but on Friday they are saving the most highly-anticipated award of them all: The Peace Prize. The recipient of this honor will be recognized for being “one who has done most or best work to promote international cooperation and reduce global conflict”, in other words promoting peace around the globe.
This year’s three candidates include Belarusian activist Ales Bialiatski, Ukraine’s Center for Civil Liberties and Russian human rights organization Memorial. The Norwegian Nobel Committee selected them due to their work toward democracy, human rights and peaceful coexistence in their home countries.
Memorial is documenting Russia’s war crimes against the population of Ukraine, and claims this illustrates why an active civil society is essential in any nation.
Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded them for their efforts to promote gender equality, believing it is integral for a more peaceful world. Their research backs this claim; studies show more equal societies are also more peaceful. Unfortunately, oppressive regimes like Iran and Afghanistan have recently reversed women’s rights – even going as far as to execute Iranian youth protestors for engaging in peaceful protest and bar Afghan girls from attending school.