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Nobel Foundation rejects Peace Prize criticism

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Nobel Foundation rejects Peace Prize criticism
14:04 CET+01:00
The Nobel Foundation, which administrates the prestigious prizes in line with the will of Alfred Nobel, on Thursday rejected criticism of recent choices for the Peace Prize.

"Despite that many lively discussions have been held on whether the chosen Peace Prize laureates fulfilled the prescribed provisions, the Foundation does not consider that the prize decisions made by the Norwegian Nobel Committee have entailed any such deviation," it said in a statement.

Swedish authorities had asked the foundation to look into claims from Fredrik Heffermehl, a lawyer and author of the book "The Nobel Peace Prize: What Nobel Really Wanted," that the Norwegian Nobel Committee had gone far astray from the wishes expressed in prize creator Alfred Nobel's 1895 last will and testament.

Heffermehl claims that the five-member prize committee had deviated from Nobel's wishes by honouring human rights activists, such as Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo in 2010, environmentalists such as Al Gore and the IPCC in 2007, and humanitarian workers like Mother Teresa in 1979.

The pick of US President Barack Obama for the 2009 prize, after he had spent just a few months in office, also met widespread criticism.

Heffermehl was outraged by the opinion expressed by the Nobel Foundation and supported by the Norwegian Nobel Committee Thursday.

"The Nobel Committee confirms again ... that it has made this into its own prize (with) its own content inserted into the arbitrarily self-chosen term 'peace' and again shows no interest in Nobel and what he wanted with the prize," he said in a statement.

In his will, Nobel stipulated that the Peace Prize should go to the person or organisation that has "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."

"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'," Heffermehl said.

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

It will in the end officially be up to the Stockholm county administration (Länsstyrelsen) to determine if the Norwegian Nobel Committee has followed the rules or not, but it has already rejected a similar complaint filed by Heffermehl in 2008, and is likely to fall in line with the Nobel Foundation's opinion.

"If the Stockholm county administration rejects Heffermehl's arguments again, I hope this case will be closed for good," said the head of the Nobel Institute in Oslo, Geir Lundestad.

"We are optimistic because we have not done anything wrong. Quite the

contrary," he told AFP.

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