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Swedish agency to probe peace prize selection

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Swedish agency to probe peace prize selection
President Obama giving a toast after accepting the peace prize in 2009.
16:26 CET+01:00
Stockholm officials have begun investigating claims by a Norwegian author that the last wishes of Alfred Nobel are routinely sidelined by a Norwegian Nobel Committee, blinded by pro-NATO sentiments, when selecting its annual peace laureate.

”It is crystal clear that the committee is not following the will. No one has contested my argument on that point. But so far, it has been completely impossible to start a discussion about it,” Norwegian author and law professor Fredrik S Heffermehl told daily Dagens Nyheter (DN).

Heffermehl has for many years been writing books and opinion pieces in Norwegian media claiming that the Norwegian Nobel Committee isn't following Alfred Nobel's wishes.

Although many laureates have done "commendable work", Heffermehl argues that it isn't enough to receive a prize with such explicit criteria.

The will states that the prize should be given to “the person who 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.”

In awarding the prize to politicians such as Barack Obama, Henry Kissinger or even Al Gore, whose work is with the environment and not peace and disarmament, the committee are not following the will of the deceased benefactor.

”Nobel was much more clever and had broader visions than the peace prize committee about global disarmament, among other things,” he told DN.

But according to DN, the Stockholm County Administrative Board (Länsstyrelsen), which regulates Swedish foundations, is now investigating the matter, and has sent a letter to the Swedish Nobel Foundation, asking for their view on the stipulations in Alfred Nobel's will.

Mikael Wiman, legal expert at the agency, thinks that it is clear that the responsibility lies with the Swedish Nobel Foundation.

”We think that Heffermehl has a point. Not that the foundation should get involved in particular appointments but we think they should regulate that the wishes in the will are adhered to and they should also get the opportunity to answer what their view on this is,” he told DN.

Jonna Petersson, informations officer at the Swedish Nobel Foundation told DN that they haven't yet had time to read the agency's letter.

”All we know is that the County Administrative Board previously, in a decision from 2008, chose not to act on Heffermehl's views,” she told the paper.

However, this time it seems that the indignant author's arguments have hit home.

”We think that the professor has come back with more substance to his arguments this time,” said Wiman to Sveriges Radio.

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