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Authorities lay Nobel Peace Prize probe to rest

Authorities lay Nobel Peace Prize probe to rest

Published: 22 Mar 2012 06:50 GMT+01:00
Updated: 22 Mar 2012 06:50 GMT+01:00

A probe into the conduct of the Nobel Foundation following criticism of some of its choices for the Nobel Peace Prize has been dismissed, Swedish authorities said on Wednesday.

Stockholm's county administrative board (Länsstyrelsen) is tasked with ensuring that foundations created by wills follow their statutes, including the Stockholm-based Nobel Foundation which administers the prestigious Nobel Prizes.

It opened an investigation earlier this year into whether the Norwegian Nobel Committee had correctly carried out the task of selecting the peace laureate under the terms of prize creator Alfred Nobel's 1895 will.

"The county administrative board has decided to dismiss the matter," it said in a statement.

The inquiry was prompted by repeated criticism from Norwegian lawyer Fredrik Heffermehl, author of the 2008 book "The Nobel Peace Prize: What Nobel Really Wanted".

Heffermehl claims the five-member prize committee had gone astray by honouring human rights activists, such as Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo in 2010, environmentalists such as Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007, and humanitarian workers like Mother Teresa in 1979.

In his will, Nobel stipulated that the peace prize should go to the person or organisation that "shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses".

Heffermehl argued in a statement earlier this month that "the Norwegian prize committee appears to still think it is their task to hand out a prize for 'peace' in general despite the fact that Nobel, according to his will, created a prize for 'champions of peace'."

The Foundation stressed that Nobel had wanted the different prize committees to be independent in their decisions, and that in all categories there was room for interpretation and debate about which areas should be included.

The Stockholm board noted in its ruling that the Nobel Foundation is required to intervene if it finds that a Nobel prize committee has not followed the prescribed provisions in its choice of laureate.

But it noted that there were "no clear guidelines (in the legislation on overseeing foundations) on how such quality control ought to be conducted," and it would therefore not pursue the matter further.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

08:44 March 22, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
Like all legal contracts, the wording of the will itself is the document that acts as the set of guidelines. Nonsensical prize winner selections are a legal breach of contract, pure and simple. The Norwegian Nobel committee has already been tried in the court of public opinion, and the jury has ruled that they have become a farce.
10:42 March 22, 2012 by Åskar
"A probe into the conduct of the Nobel Foundation following criticism of some of its choices for the Nobel Peace Prize ..."

What rubbish is this? The Nobel foundation is in no way involved with choosing the winners of the different Nobel Prizes. That is done by a number of different bodies independently of the foundation.
10:45 March 22, 2012 by johan rebel
Heffermehl has been waging a personal vendetta against the Peace Prize committtee for years, just because they haven't awarded the prize to his best friend.. Heffermehl is a single-minded fanatic who obviously needs to get a life and find something useful and productive to do. Alternatively, he could start looking for a good shrink.

Nice that common sense has prevailed in Sweden, for once!
16:57 March 22, 2012 by eltechno
Whether this was the appropriate forum to judge the Peace Prize committee, it IS obvious that anyone who could give a prize to Kissinger, Gore, or Obama in the name of peace has long ago wandered out into the tall grass. The Peace Prize hasn't become quite as ridiculous as the Riksbank (economics) Prize (yet) but it is damn close.
18:41 March 22, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
@ johan rebel

Maybe you do not approve of Heffernehl's particular choice, whoever that is, but if you want other readers to believe that the Norwegian Nobel committee is doing a good job with their selections, it is not the Heffermehl situation that needs clarification, you will instead need to defend their recent idiotic choices, for example:

- Al Gore and his private jet for climate change, rather than peace

- Obama for doing absolutely nothing

- Ellen Sirleaf, the 2011 co-recipient of the Peace Prize for work on women's rights in Liberia, has just yesterday told the world that she supports a law that gives 1 year jail time for homesexual activity between consenting men in her country. Seems that women's rights does not equate to human rights, but who cares, right?

As I posted initially, breach of contract is breach of contract, whether you approve of Heffermehl's point of view or not. The Swedish Nobel foundation should be ashamed of themselves for not taking this much needed opportunity to re-direct the Norwegians.

A final point is that the Nobel peace prize committee should consider the withdrawal of the prize, when appropriate (maybe they cannot get the money back, but they can at least make formal withdrawals of the official designations of some winners) when people like Arafat go back to bombing, or never stopped, or when it was revealed that Kissinger was ordering the bombing Cambodia while accepting the prize, etc... etc...
21:53 March 22, 2012 by Carbarrister
"The county administrative board has decided to dismiss the matter," it said in a statement.

Surprise! Surprise! If they actually followed the law as aptly described above by Reason abd Realism the Board would have had to find itself in violation. They couldn't allow that to happen. So they just dismissed the matter and hope no one notices. I am not an expert on Swedish Law so I do not know if the Board's dismissal can be appealed. If someone knows I would be interested.
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