Nobel Peace Price 2015

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Shamelessly tapping into the resourcefulness of Wikipedia without having to spend precious hours towards establishing a more legitimate resource base for my ramblings just a quick thought on yesterday’s awarding of the Nobel Peace Price to the European Union.

According to Mr. Nobel himself, the award shall go to the person who “shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”

Most Nobel laureates were individuals, but several institutes, organisations and a number of UN programmes also were awarded the most coveted peace award – as well as the UN as a whole, in 2001, a rather odd choice I would say.

With the European Union, it’s the first time the Nobel Committee chose a security community, i.e. “a transnational region comprised of sovereign states whose people maintain dependable expectations of peaceful change” (Adler & Barnett 1998). The Nobel Committee argued the EU has “over six decades contributed to peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights”.

In 2015, when ASEAN aims to realise the ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC), it might seem timely for the award to go to Southeast Asia. The Association has over 45 years maintained interstate peace among its members. True, there is a lot of room still to improve the status of democracy and human rights within the region. The ASEAN Charter as well as the APSC Blueprint refer to strengthening and promoting democracy and human rights, and recent changes in Burma seem to herald more reason for optimism – though there’s little coverage on the ongoing war in Kachin state and numerous other instances of central governments battling insurgents, secessionists, terrorists, freedom fighters, and the already marginalised.

Many of the 500 million Europeans also don’t quite appreciate the Nobel Committee’s choice. They argue their governments, in collision with the EU, are waging war against them, with “increasing violence and division”. Sure enough it is not the best timing for the award to go to crisis-battled Europe. An odd decision – maybe the award should have gone to Korean Rapper Psy instead. After all, Ban Ki-moon himself called Psy’s Gangnam Style “a force for world peace”. With close to 500 million views, you almost have a community as big as Europe’s, though not bound by geography! How’s that for an individual effort!!!

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3 comments on “Nobel Peace Price 2015

  1. ryankf says:

    Poor Thailand, who wants to be the AND between PEACE and LOVE.

    I’m not sure about this Nobel Prize going to an organization/group. Takes away some of the sex appeal of the award, if such a thing can be had for a peace prize. What makes the Nobel prizes special is their recognition of individual achievement. They are the Olympics for non-Olympians. The recognition of the award also brings something to the recipient. Not just the money but the international legitimacy-lending effect. How does the EU benefit from the award? Does the Nobel prize really lend any legitimacy to the EU and if it does can they spend that good-will capital?
    I say no, and no.

  2. henning says:

    Yes, if you break down the award money it’s not going to feed Europe’s hungry, tired and poor. Sure enough honouring individual achievements sends the most powerful message of international legitimacy, but it’s also the most controversial, one of the reasons the Committee might have chosen the EU this year. Also their choice for the Literature award has been criticised by Chinese dissidents, who consider Mo Yan a tool of the CPC.1

    But I don’t think the award should exclusively go to individuals; some of the laureates such as International Campaign to Ban Landmines, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, the International Committee of the Red Cross) and Amnesty International to me appear noble choices, too.

    But I agree, despite the way the award’s been politicised over the years and despite the several controversial choices made along the way it’s still a powerful symbol, and awarding it to the EU appears to be punching below it’s weight!

    1 After Fury Over 2010 Peace Prize, China Embraces Nobel Selection, NYT, 11 October 2012.

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