Hornbill Unleashed

October 5, 2016

Who will win the Nobel peace prize?

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 9:01 PM

This year 376 candidates – 228 individuals and 148 organisations – are vying for the award –  a record number nominated for the 2016 Nobel peace prize, to be announced on Friday.

Here are some which UK’s Guardian thinks have a chance:

Syrian White Helmets

During the past five years of war in Syria, the White Helmets, a group of volunteer rescue workers, have run towards bombs in opposition-held areas to rescue tens of thousands – by some estimates up to 60,000 people – from the ruins and battlefields.

There has been no more dangerous place in the world to be a first responder for most of that time. The ranks of the group, made up of pre-war Syria’s middle classes, have lost 160 of their own, most killed by jets that have returned to target buildings they had already bombed.

They are the first on the scene of any airstrike, picking through rubble and cradling the dead and injured, wearing the distinctive white helmets that gave them their name. Their motto throughout Syria’s withering conflict has been “to save one life is to save all of humanity”.

Angela Merkel

Were Angela Merkel to win the Nobel peace prize it would hang like an albatross around her neck. When the German chancellor was a hot contender for it in 2015 in the light of her open-door refugee policy, there was strong domestic opposition to her receiving it, with 73% of Germans saying she had not earned it, according to one poll.

Privately, Merkel was supposed to have expressed her relief that she didn’t get it, believing it would have restricted the style of her chancellorship.

The jury in Germany is still out on whether the course she has put the country is the right one and any feeling the electorate gets, before next year’s general election, that the international community is pushing for Merkel’s re-election, could badly backfire.

The refugee politics for which she is so praised outside of Germany, is also at the heart of ordinary Germans’ worries. They are asking whether the influx of refugees – more than 1 million last year, and several hundreds of thousands expected by the end of this year – is making Germany a less secure place. They also worry about the impact of refugees on integration, gender equality, public services and the labour market.

Merkel is under huge pressure to show her government is able to deal with such concerns. In his speech to the UN refugee summit in New York in September Barack Obama thanked Merkel and the Germans for their efforts in dealing with the refugee crisis, an example of the moral pressure Merkel is under to ensure she does not do a U-turn despite growing domestic pressure.

Merkel would be the first to agree that she does not need a Nobel peace prize to add to the pressure, and the jury should do her and Germany a favour by waiting at the very least, until she retires, writes Kate Connoly of Guardian.

Pope Francis

No pope has ever won the Nobel peace prize before, but Francis is seen as a frontrunner for the accolade this year.

Since becoming pontiff three and a half years ago, he has won the hearts of millions of people – not only Catholics – across the world for the strong stance he has taken on issues such as refugees, poverty and climate change.

Francis has repeatedly implored heads of states and citizens to offer a generous welcome to refugees. In April, the pope visited the Greek island of Lesbos to say to refugees who had made a perilous land and sea journey to safety: “I am here to tell you, you are not alone.” He underlined his message by offering sanctuary to 12 refugees in the Vatican, leading them up the steps of the papal plane.

On climate change, he has described man’s destruction of the environment as a sin and accused mankind of turning the planet into a “polluted wasteland full of debris, desolation and filth”.

His encyclical, Laudato Si, called on the richest nations to pay their “grave social debt” to the poor, saying the world was beginning to resemble a “pile of filth” due to the recklessness of industry and lack of concrete action by states. He has also called capitalism the “dung of the devil”.

His radical comments have dismayed some traditionalists in the church. But there are many liberals who argue that the pope’s compassion for the poor and his environmental credentials are outweighed by his unbending support for traditional Catholic teaching on abortion and birth control. Harriet Sherwood

Greek islanders

If the islanders of Greece win this year’s Nobel peace prize it will not be because any of them wanted to. On the frontline of the biggest movement of humanity in modern times, the residents of Lesbos – to name but one of the isles – were nominated for opening their homes to Syrian refugees despite the economic hardship they have been forced to endure with Greece’s economic near-collapse.

Though the Nobel committee does not release names of nominees, it is known that three people have been proposed for the prize as symbolic representatives of the Greek volunteers. Two are residents of Skala Skamnias, a tiny fishing village within view of the Turkish coast and the site of many rescues last year. Emilia Kamvissi, 85, watched the crisis unfold from her seafront home. Kamvissi, whose father came to Greece as a refugee in 1922, embodied the enormous compassion exhibited by locals when she was caught on camera bottle-feeding a Syrian baby.

Fisherman Stratis Valiamos, 40, was also nominated for saving hundreds of people from drowning as their dinghies struggled in the perilous crossing from Turkey. “People say ‘you’re a hero,’ but this isn’t heroism, it’s the normal thing to do,” he said.

Also nominated is actor Susan Sarandon, who spent Christmas on Lesbos and was put forward as a representative of the thousands of volunteers, NGOs and charity organisations that rushed to the island at the height of the crisis.

“Let’s hope they do win,” said Nikos Xydakis, Greece’s deputy foreign minister for European affairs. “What we saw was ordinary people, with no order from above, respecting tradition and acting out of sheer hospitality and solidarity. What they did shows the best of humanity in the simplest way, writes Helena Smith.

Juan Manuel Santos and Timochenko

The Colombian president, Juan Manuel Santos, and the leader of the leftist Farc rebel group, Rodrigo Londoño, known as Timochenko, were considered leading contenders for the awards for signing a peace deal last month to end 52 years of war.

Their chances appear to have been dealt a fatal blow however following a referendum on Sunday that narrowly rejected the deal. The pair may have to redouble their negotiating efforts.

Every government since the 1980s has attempted to end the war with the Farc, which rose up against the Colombian state in 1964. A deal was finally made between Santos, who has been president since 2010 and staked his political legacy on negotiating an end to the country’s internal conflict, and Londoño, who took over as leader of the rebels in 2011, and at one point had a $5m bounty on his capture from the US, reported Sibylla Brodzinsky.


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