Trump’s nomination makes a mockery of the Nobel Peace Prize

Qualified nominators must choose more wisely, otherwise the relevance of the esteemed award will be called into question

Becky Alexis-Martin
Saturday 12 September 2020 13:03 BST
UAE formally recognises Israel in historic move, Trump announces

Winning the Nobel Peace Prize is the greatest possible accolade for any peace activist or pacifist organisation. I feel proud to be part of an international community that dares to value concord over conflict, diplomacy over warfare, and democracy over dictatorship. 

The Nobel Peace Prize represents our aspiration for a kinder world – and recognises those who continue to fight for peace. So, can this prestigious award retain its symbolic value in an age of politicking and populism? 

So far there are 134 historic Nobel laureates, since 1901. Recent winners include former US president Barack Obama, the International Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and the Iraqi human rights activist and writer Nadia Murad. So, it might seem rather surprising that Donald Trump has recently been nominated for the prize in 2021.

President Trump is unfit for nomination and his inclusion makes a mockery of this important accolade. This is not merely due to his incendiary Twitter rants and threats of nuclear war. Trump has not dealt with persistent systemic inequalities and has mostly refused to deal with the climate crisis – as well as leaving a large Covid-19 death toll in his wake. This is not peace.

“It’s hard to imagine an individual less worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize,” said Tim Wright, a 2017 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, recognised for his work with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. “He has fomented violence against his own citizens, abandoned longstanding arms control agreements, and undermined multilateralism at every opportunity. His few diplomatic initiatives, such as the summits with North Korea, have been little more than photo-ops.” It is unlikely that Trump will win the Nobel Peace Prize, announced via a virtual ceremony on 9 October, but regardless he has been nominated by right-wing Norwegian MP Christian Tybring-Gjedde for his purported role in the Israel-UAE deal.

Beyond the dubious ethics of this ignoble selection, we may have to wait half a century to learn what became of his nomination – the Nobel Prize Committee operates in complete confidentiality, vowing to never, ever announce the names of either nominators or nominees, only winners. The deliberations over Trump’s nomination remain to been seen by our future archivists and historians – but the outcome of such deliberations will influence the very fate of the Nobel Peace Prize itself. 

Trump is not the first unpalatable Nobel Peace Prize nominee. The Nobel Committee has a controversial history of both awards and omissions. In 1973, the prize was won by US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, who was involved in Operation Condor and bombing campaigns in Cambodia. 

Meanwhile, it has not been awarded posthumously to Mahatma Gandhi, arguably one of the greatest advocates of non-violent resistance in history. 

Anybody can be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize but only “qualified nominators” may throw their hat into the ring and offer suggestions for future nominees. You might be surprised to learn who qualifies to make this important choice – and you may even be able to make a qualified nomination of your own. 

You can make a nomination if you are a current or former member of the Norwegian Nobel Prize Committee or a Nobel Peace Prize winner. Politicians and heads of state can also contribute their preferred candidates, as can members of the International Court of Justice, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, l’Institut de Droit International and the international board of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

University professors, emeritus professors, and associate professors (equivalent to senior lecturer or reader in the UK) are also qualified nominators for the Nobel Peace Prize. If you lecture and research in history, social sciences, law, philosophy, theology or religion at this level, then you can nominate your preferred candidate for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize simply by using an online nomination form until February 2021. You can also nominate someone if you are a university leader, the director of a peace research institute, or a foreign policy institute.

Be warned, that it is not possible to appeal or revoke a Nobel prize after it has been awarded to a person or organisation. 

But perhaps it is time for us to work together to select someone who is worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize. I would vote for New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern to win – but there are countless deserving people and organisations out there.

As a matter of principle, the “Norwegian Nobel Committee never comment upon what the peace prize aureates may say and do after they have been awarded the prize”. With this in mind, we must choose wisely.

Dr Becky Alexis-Martin is a lecturer in human geography at Manchester Metropolitan University. She researches nuclear culture and geopolitics. She is the author of ‘Disarming Doomsday: The Human Impact of Nuclear Weapons Since Hiroshima’ which has been shortlisted for the LHM Ling Outstanding First Book Prize

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