A record 259 nominations have been received for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, with candidates including a Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban and a US soldier accused of leaking classified material to WikiLeaks. Fifty of the nominations were for organizations.
The secretive committee that awards the prize does not identify the nominees, but those with nomination rights sometimes announce their picks.
Names put forward this year include Bradley Manning, the US Army private who has admitted sending hundreds of thousands of classified documents to the secrecy-busting Web site WikiLeaks, and 15-year-old Malala Yousufzai, an education activist who was shot in the head by Taliban militants while on her way home from school in Pakistan.
“This year’s nominations come from all over the world ... well-known names, well-known presidents and prime ministers, and also lesser well-known names working in humanitarian projects, human rights activists,” said Norwegian Nobel Committee non-voting secretary Geir Lundestad, who announced the nomination numbers on Monday.
“In recent years, some of the Nobel Peace Prizes may have been controversial, but they have added to the interest of the prize,” Lundestad said.
Last year, the prize went to the EU for promoting peace and human rights in Europe following the devastation of World War II, but not everyone approved the decision to give it to the bloc.
Three peace prize laureates — South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mairead Maguire of Northern Ireland and Adolfo Perez Esquivel from Argentina — insisted that the prize money of US$1.2 million should not have been paid out last year because the EU contradicts the prize’s values with its reliance on military force to ensure security.
The nomination period for this year ended on Feb. 1. The previous record of 241 nominations was in 2011.
Kristian Berg Harpviken, director of the Peace Research Institute Oslo, and a prominent voice in the Nobel guessing game, listed Yousafzai as his favorite for this year’s award, followed by the Congolese physician and gynecologist Denis Mukweg, a leading figure in the fight against sexual violence worldwide.
None of Harpviken’s favorites have won the prize since he started guessing in 2009.