How to get nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize
American voting rights organizer Stacey Abrams and pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong are among the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize nominees. But information about nominations and the process behind them is often kept secret.
Stacey Abrams speaks at a rally during the 2020 presidential campaign, Nov. 1, 2020. The former Georgia gubernatorial candidate has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for her work in expanding voting rights.
February 2, 2021
By Jan M. Olsen
Belarusian opposition figures, Hong Kong pro-democracy activists, the global Black Lives Matter movement, a jailed Russian opposition leader, and an American voting rights champion are among this year’s nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize.
There is no shortage of causes or candidates for the Norwegian Nobel Committee to consider for what arguably remains the world’s most prestigious prize. But getting a nomination isn’t the same as being in the running for the award.
Here’s a look at the Nobel nomination process:
Who can nominate a candidate?
Heads of state or politicians serving at a national level, university professors, directors of foreign policy institutes, past Nobel Prize recipients, and members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee are among those deemed qualified to submit a nomination for the prize.
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A nomination for oneself will not be considered, according to the committee.
The nominations aren’t announced by the committee, but those doing the nominating may choose to make it public, raising publicity both for the nominee and the proposer.
“There is huge benefit in being nominated, but then comes the ‘quality criteria,’” Henrik Urdal of the Peace Research Institute in Oslo, a body that is independent of the Nobel committee, told The Associated Press.
How does the nomination process play out?
The deadline for nominations was Sunday at midnight, Oslo time. Once all nominations have come in, the very secretive board will sift through the written nominations and validate them. They need to check people’s affiliations and whether the nomination meets the criteria. The committee also can add names themselves, Mr. Urdal said.
That all takes time, and it won’t likely be until the end of February or early March that the committee will say how many people or organizations have been nominated.
Who won the 2020 prize?
The United Nations World Food Program won the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize. It was among 318 candidates nominated – including both people and organizations – but those names are being kept secret for 50 years by the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
How do we know who is nominated this year?
Some of those who have proposed nominees for this year have publicly announced their choices.
For that reason, we know that among the 2021 nominees are exiled Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and two other Belarus democracy activists, Veronika Tsepkalo and Maria Kolesnikova; the Black Lives Matter movement; Alexei Navalny, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest critic; Stacey Abrams, the former Georgia gubernatorial candidate who has become a leading U.S. voting rights advocate; and former White House adviser Jared Kushner and his deputy, Avi Berkowitz, who negotiated a series of Mideast agreements known as the Abraham Accords.
Groups nominated in 2021 include the World Health Organization for its role in addressing the coronavirus pandemic; NATO; Reporters Without Borders, known by its French acronym RSF; and Polish judges defending civil rights.
What was the thought process behind naming those nominees?
In his nomination statement, Norwegian lawmaker Petter Eide said the Black Lives Matter movement’s “calls for systemic change have spread around the world, forcing other countries to grapple with racism within their own societies.”
Another Norwegian lawmaker, Ola Elvestuen, tapped Mr. Navalny, an opposition leader who returned to Russia in January after spending five months in Germany recovering from a nerve-agent poisoning. He called him “the clearest voice for human rights and democracy in Russia now.”
Ms. Abrams was nominated by Norwegian lawmaker Lars Haltbrekken, who said “Abrams’ work follows in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s footsteps in the fight for equality before the law and for civil rights.” Noting the political divisions in the United States, Mr. Haltbrekken said “the Peace Prize should point out a direction for what kind of working methods one should use if one is dissatisfied with the society one lives in.”
Norwegian lawmaker Geir Sigbjoern Toskedal named the three Belarusian women “for their fight for fair elections and inspiration for peaceful opposition to the illegitimate regime in Belarus.”
A professor emeritus of Harvard Law School, attorney Alan Dershowitz, named Mr. Kushner and Mr. Berkowitz for negotiating deals between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco. He said they fulfilled “the daunting criteria set out by Alfred Nobel in his will.”
Who else has been nominated, but didn’t win?
Mr. Urdal said well-known figures are often nominated but don’t win: “It is not something new.”
Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler was nominated in 1939 by Swedish lawmaker E.G.C. Brandt, who said later that was meant as satire.
Most recently Mr. Kushner’s father-in-law, former President Donald Trump, was nominated for the 2020 award but didn’t get it. Neither did Greta Thunberg, the Swedish environmental activist known worldwide for pressing for tougher action on curbing climate change.
When will the 2021 winner be announced?
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The committees announce their decisions for all the Nobel prizes over a series of days in October. The peace prize and other Nobel awards are presented to the winners on Dec. 10, the anniversary of founder Alfred Nobel’s death. In 2020, the Nobel prizes came with a $1.1 million cash award – which often is shared – along with diplomas and gold medals.
This story was reported by The Associated Press.
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