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Nobel's will 'blatantly disrespected' in Norway

11 Oct 2012, 15:50

Published: 11 Oct 2012 15:50 GMT+02:00

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For years, Heffermehl has been writing books and penning opinion pieces in the Norwegian media arguing that the country's Nobel Committee, in charge of awarding the Nobel Peace Prize each year, is failing to follow the last will and testament of the Swedish industrialist whose fortune served as the basis for the prize.

Nobel's 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".

But 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 has failed to adhere to the will of the deceased benefactor, Heffermehl argues.

In the run up to this year’s peace prize announcement, set to take place on Friday in Oslo, The Local checked in with Heffermehl to hear his thoughts on the problem.

The Local: What is wrong with the current selection process of the Nobel Peace Prize?

Fredrik Heffermehl: In the beginning, the Norwegian politicians, whose job it is to select the Nobel Committee, were eager to find the right peace-minded individuals working for a global peace order, which is what Nobel wanted to support.

But sometime after 1948, in the wake of the Second World War, this eagerness dissipated. Today, the Committee is very different and I would say consists of Norwegian politicians who accept a world system of competing military forces, the direct opposite of the core purpose of Nobel´s Peace Prize: to support a new system and efforts for global cooperation on demilitarization of international affairs – the global peace order that Nobel described in his will.

I have been saying for more than five years in books and articles that Nobel’s will and purpose must be respected. But the Nobel Committee does not want to enter into this discussion.

TL: Why is that, do you think?

FH: The military sector in Norway was and is a strong sector and the reality today is that a majority politicians favouring a strong military defence are in control of a prize, which was initially meant for their opponents.

TL: What happens now?

FH: Well, they can’t ignore Nobel forever. In fact it has been the shock of my life to see such blatant disrespect of someone’s last will and testament. I have had support from some very high-ranking people in Norway, but this is in private; no one dares to come out and say it in public. It says something about the political climate that no one wants to stick their neck out.

TL: What has the Stockholm County Administrative Board (Länsstyrelsen) – tasked with ensuring that foundations created by wills such as Nobel's follow their statutes – done?

FH: They were also reluctant to stick their neck out. It took four years to get them to act. I knew that they would have to agree with my point. It is elementary really. The whole purpose of a testament is that the testator’s will has to be followed and cannot be changed after his death. The authority would have to confirm my view. I put pressure on them but they tried to evade the question for years.

It even had to be taken to the administrative court, but I am very happy with the outcome. A decision was passed that confirmed entirely that the prizes must comply with the purpose described by the testator.

But the authority was very diplomatic, its decision did not criticize anything that has happened in the past, it only gave directions for the future.

TL: What needs to be done about it, in your opinion?

FH: There really has never been a proper discussion. They are reluctant to answer these questions because if they enter into the discussion they will be forced to select member for the committee who are actually in favour of a global peace order – as Nobel was.

After the Swedish decision the Norwegian politicians must reconsider the situation and determine what the purpose of the prize really is and whether they are qualified and willing to continue selecting the five-member Nobel Committees.

Story continues below…

They must ask themselves the following questions: "Should we, can we still have this role?"; "How have the committees fulfilled the mandate in the past?"; and "Is it possible for Norway's Parliament to be loyal to Nobel and can official Norway continue to select the trustees of a private Swedish foundation in the future – to implement a peace vision that Parliament is directly opposed to?"

TL: So, who do you think will win this year’s Nobel Peace Prize?

FH: To be honest, I feel less interested every year – the prizes have less and less to do with Nobel. The politicians are using Nobel’s name to promote their own ideas, they do not understand that Nobel saw the costly and dangerous threat to human survival that would develop if the world failed to curb militarism. His desire for a global peace order is a much more urgent, mandatory need today than when he wrote his will.

Rebecca Martin

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Your comments about this article

20:04 October 11, 2012 by johan rebel
Can we please cloak this man in the obscurity he so well deserves?

He's been grinding the same old vidictive axe for years, only because the committee has refused to award the prize to his personal favorite.
21:30 October 11, 2012 by Eric1
President Obama "winning" the Nobel "Peace" Prize destroyed what little creditability it had. President Reagan did more for freedom and peace than any President in the 20th century and didn't receive the Nobel Peace Prize. It proves the Committee is made of anti capitalist bigots. Obama is destroying the USA and our standard of living.
21:54 October 11, 2012 by Hamsterdam
I would imagine that Breivik will win... or if they can dig him up...Pol Pot
04:54 October 12, 2012 by rolfkrohna
Obama is well known for being the major war lord in the wold history. No other military leader in world history has been instrumental in assassinating so many people. A new consultancy report, issued in New York, estimate that 254,000 people died as a result of the US Iraq invasion. Even if we got some way to go to the European 6 million killed in WW2, it is too much and too many. The reward, a peace price.
11:16 October 12, 2012 by pappabear
" President Reagan did more for freedom and peace than any President in the 20th century and didn't receive the Nobel Peace Prize. It proves the Committee is made of anti capitalist bigots. Obama is destroying the USA and our standard of living."

Oh how we laughed...

This piece was about the Nobel prize not the American Economy but hey, lets talk about you shall we! (That was a rhetorical question btw)

Kissinger (!) Raygun (sic) and Obama are all preposterous candidates for any Peace prize predicated on reducing standing armies / armaments...nothing has really changed...we still over spend on defence, get into stupid un-win-able wars and think any body who would wish otherwise is a dangerous "commie".

And without wanting to be an Obama apologist, rolfkrohna, jesus how can say " No other military leader in world history has been instrumental in assassinating so many people"...ahem ...Hitler, erm Stalin....erm come on now help me out here...every American President from 1945- 1975...and even you admit "Even if we got some way to go to the European 6 million killed in WW2...it is too many"...well then its not Obama then is it? Is it?!!!

Had any Republican President had the same record on "Fighting Terror" (I think we need to fight stupidity more) including assassinating Public Enemy number 1 they would have been lauded...

Fundamentalism be it right, left, of whatever religious bent, is the biggest threat to humanity and until we stop blaming the immigrants (its like they invented crime in Sweden...! Had you guys not thought about it before?!), or the lower classes or the welfare state...or even China...we are doomed, I say...doomed!
23:01 October 12, 2012 by acidcritic
Who can trust an institution which has awarded the Nobel Price for Peace to Atila (Henry Kissinger)?
23:59 October 12, 2012 by james_g
@ rolfkrohna - I think you need to get an education. Question - who was the American President at the time of the invasion of Iraq? No, NOT Obama!!! Ever heard of George W Bush...?
11:57 October 13, 2012 by alecLoTh

Preposterous! Reagan used his presidential power to veto all UN directives to sanction South Africa over apartheid, all without exception.... Reagan also vetoed time and time again, 26 in all I think, any directive by the UN to sanction Israel over Palestine.

Do you want to count how many people died needlessly in those two terms that man was in office? Stop the foolish emotional attachment to a war-mongering capitalist, try use fact instead, what did Reagan actually do to promote peace?

Nothing! All you're cared about is doing whatever it takes to maintain your 'standard of living' even if that means invading countries or using trade barriers.

Try again, but be warned, not all readers here are as dumb as you are.
13:24 October 13, 2012 by cogito
@#8. To borrow your melodramatic turn of phrase:

Stop the foolish emotional attachment to the U.N., the largest collection of corruptocrat thugs in the world today.

Do you want to count how many people were liberated from Soviet totalitarianism by Reagan?

As for who's dumb...have you heard the one about the pot and kettle?
18:01 October 13, 2012 by Peace and praise
"Nobel's 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"."

If the above statement is correct, Obama was awarded the prize for his work on nuclear disarmament. America and Russia have piles of nukes and other countries as well. Which is the greatest treat now? Why is everyone talking about Iran? At the moment, which global leader is making efforts to cut down these nukes? Read the quote from Nobel's will and d

Objectivity is better than prejudice.
18:23 October 13, 2012 by sfk

What are you telling us!

Even a child who is 5 years old would not argue as you do!---

Have you ever forgotten the fundamentalist, George W Bush!

One thing is sure that American people are loosing their life standards which is really difficult to accept... However the world population tired to finance your large engines!!!!!!!!!!!1
12:12 October 15, 2012 by engagebrain

You are badly wrong about the number of dead in WWII in Europe - 30 million more likely, the 6 millions figure on ly covers jews murdered by the Nazis.

The true European figure is a little vague since Russia is still coy about their devastating losses.
23:02 October 15, 2012 by feathernoodle
Obama being awarded the Nobel prize is about 7,285 kinds of WRONG. He has done more to run the U.S. into the ground than any U.S. president before him, even Jimmy Carter. And sadly, when the U.S. sneezes, the rest of the world gets pneumonia. If our economy tanks thanks to Obama's mishaps, the rest of the world will soon follow and that's no good for anyone.
13:11 October 17, 2012 by cogito
"Obama was awarded the prize for his work on nuclear disarmament". #10.

What and when was did that "work take place?" Oh, you mean the CND t-shirt he once wore.

"Have you ever forgotten the fundamentalist, George W Bush" (#11)

Have you forgotten the black-racist Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama's spiritual advisor for 20 years.

It is scandalous that the peace prize was awarded to the EU, rather than to the young Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban. What's wrong with Norwegians?
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