Today I want to look at those individuals who have missed out on being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Most prominently mentioned in this context is Mahatma Gandhi, whose non-violent struggle against British rule in India is practically synonymous with peaceful change. Gandhi was nominated several times, including in 1948, the year he was assassinated. While awards cannot be made posthumously, it is telling that that year the Nobel Committee made no award on the grounds that ‘there was no suitable living candidate’.
Where organizations are concerned – in my view- among the biggest losers is Greenpeace, which is rumoured to have been nominated twice. Since the early 1970s Greenpeace has worked to highlight the plight of the Earth’s ecosystems from human over-consumption and capitalism and campaigned for a peaceful, nuclear free world and disarmament. It resists corporate funding or funding by political bodies and draws its finances entirely from its 2.9 million supporters (as of January 2009) as well as sales from books, calendars and so on. Awarding Greenpeace would send a further strong signal to the world of the importance of the interconnection between peace, security and a well-functioning environment.
While Gandhi and Greenpeace are among the biggest losers, in some cases, nominees not receiving the award was to everyone’s benefit. Thus, the Nobel Peace Prize Nomination database reveals the astonishing facts that both Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler were nominated for the prize. In hindsight, both nominations seem utterly absurd, and indeed the person who nominated Hitler in 1939, E.G.C. Brant (a member of the Swedish parliament), intended his nomination as satirical criticism of the political debate in the Swedish parliament. When Brandt failed to meet his intended purpose he withdrew his nomination. Although it is doubtful that Hitler would have received the award, even considering him would make a mockery of the award. Moreover, although I am keen to stress the prize’s and the awarding committee’s ability to shape – in the case of Obama (see yesterday’s post) – even future political agendas, this has a hope of working only if the person/organisation in receipt of the award already shares the values of the Nobel Peace committee. To be clear, presenting the award to Hitler in 1939 would hardly have changed the behaviour of a mad-man.