econintersect.com
       
  

FREE NEWSLETTER: Econintersect sends a nightly newsletter highlighting news events of the day, and providing a summary of new articles posted on the website. Econintersect will not sell or pass your email address to others per our privacy policy. You can cancel this subscription at any time by selecting the unsubscribing link in the footer of each email.



posted on 09 October 2017

Why The Nobel Peace Prize Brings Little Peace

from The Conversation

-- this post authored by Ronald R. Krebs, University of Minnesota

The Nobel Peace Prize for 2017 was awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, an advocacy group that has worked to draw attention to their catastrophic humanitarian consequences."


Please share this article - Go to very top of page, right hand side, for social media buttons.


Every year, the winners of the Nobel Prizes are announced to great fanfare. And none receives more scrutiny than the Nobel Peace Prize.

With good reason. The other Nobel Prizes are given to people who have already changed our world - for their remarkable accomplishments. But, in the case of the Nobel Peace Prize, the hope of the Nobel Committee is to change the world through its very conferral. It, therefore, rewards aspiration more than achievement.

Francis Sejersted, chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee from 1991-1999, once noted with pride the Nobel Peace Prize’s political ambitions:

“The Committee also takes the possible positive effects of its choices into account [because] … Nobel wanted the Prize to have political effects. Awarding a Peace Prize is, to put it bluntly, a political act."

So, has the Nobel Peace Prize changed the world?

Expecting the prize to bring world peace would be an unfair standard to apply. However, my research shows that the winners and their causes have rarely profited from the award. Even worse, the prize has at times made it harder for them to make the leap from aspiration to achievement.

History of the peace award

The Nobel Peace Prize was first awarded in 1901, five years after Alfred Nobel’s death. Nobel’s will defined peace narrowly and focused on candidates’ accomplishments: The prize was to be awarded “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."

The committee initially remained true to Nobel’s charge. Between 1901 and 1945, over three-quarters of the prizes (33 of 43) went to those who promoted interstate peace and disarmament.

Since the Second World War, however, less than one-quarter of the prizes have gone to promoting interstate peace and disarmament. Just seven of the 37 winners since 1989 fall into this category. Another 11 awards have sought to encourage ongoing peace processes.

Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin show their shared Nobel Peace Prize. Jerry Lampen/Reuters

But many of these processes had borne little fruit at the time or still had a long road ahead. Consider that three of the most prominent winners in this category were then Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Nonetheless, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is today in a coma.

Perhaps for this reason, in the last decade, the committee has given just two awards to encourage peace processes. In 2008 Martti Ahtisaari, former president of Finland, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his various achievements in Namibia, Kosovo and Aceh. In 2016, Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos was honored with the Nobel in the hope that the prize would help push through his peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels, even though a popular referendum had just rejected it, and thereby end his country’s half-century-long civil war.

The striking change since the 1970s, and especially since the end of the Cold War, has been the Nobel Peace Prize’s growing focus on promoting domestic political change.

Albert Luthuli, winner of the 1960 Nobel Peace Prize. AP Photo

Between 1946 and 1970, the prize was awarded just twice to dissidents and activists like the South African leader Albert Luthuli, who led a nonviolent struggle against apartheid in the 1960s, and the American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.. Between 1971 and 1988, such figures received the prize five times. Between 1989 and 2016, more than 40 percent of all winners fell into this category.

The rate has been even higher in the last decade: 57 percent of Nobel Peace Prize laureates since 2007 have been activists and advocates for equality, liberty and human development like educating women and stopping child labor.

These are admirable values. But their connection to interstate, and intrastate, conflict is indirect at best and tenuous at worst.

Does it bring global attention to issues?

Nobel Peace laureates Mohamed ElBaradei, Jody Williams,Dalai Lama, Frederik Willem De Klerk, Mairead Corrigan and Shirin Ebadi. Kim Kyung Hoon/Reuters

The Nobel Peace Prize’s defenders insist that the prize works in subtle but perceptible ways to advance the winners’ causes. They say it attracts media attention, bolsters the winners and their supporters, and even focuses international pressure.

But there’s little evidence that the Nobel Peace Prize brings sustained global attention.

First of all, in many instances it is hard to tell whether the prize has made any difference, because the media glare was already intense. For example, in 2005, when the committee honored the International Atomic Energy Agency and its director general, Mohammed El Baradei, nuclear proliferation was already of great concern. In other cases - such as South Africa’s transition from apartheid, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or the troubles in Northern Ireland - the prize made little noticeable difference to international media coverage.

It is true that in those few cases where coverage was not already strong, there have been occasional successes. For instance, I found that the committee’s decision to hand the award to Aung San Suu Kyi in 1991 did draw attention to the plight of Myanmar.

But, in general, my research found little evidence that winning the Nobel Peace Prize boosts international media coverage of the winner’s cause beyond the short run.

Putting activists in peril

Of greater concern is that, when the Nobel Peace Prize goes to promote political and social change - as it has so often in recent decades - it can have very real and detrimental effects on the movements and causes it celebrates.

Powerful authoritarian regimes will not liberalize just because the Nobel Committee has chosen to honor a dissident. This is not because regimes dismiss it as a silly award given out by international do-gooders. In fact, they take it very seriously. Fearing that domestic activists would take heart, they have ramped up repression, shrunk the space for political opposition and cracked down harder than ever.

Portrait of Nobel Peace Prize winner jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo in the background, during the ceremony in 2010.

This is what happened in Tibet and Myanmar after the Dalai Lama and after Aung San Suu Kyi received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 and 1991, respectively. Similarly, the Iranian lawyer and human rights activist Shirin Ebadi has been forced to lived in exile in Britain since 2009. In China, the peace award did not make the release of the dissident Liu Xiaobo from prison more likely.

The same is true when it comes to social change. Patriarchal societies, with their deeply entrenched gender roles, will not change just because some people in the West think they should and to that end name a women’s rights activist a Nobel laureate.

What’s at stake?

The Nobel Committee’s intentions are honorable, but the results, I argue, can be tragic. The award raises the spirits of reformers, but it also mobilizes forces that are far greater in opposition.

Every October, many the world over hail the Nobel Committee for its brave and inspired choice. But it is the truly brave activists on the ground who are left to bear the consequences when anxious leaders bring the state’s terrible power down on them.

Aung San Suu Kyi delivering her Nobel lecture at Oslo’s City Hall on June 16, 2012. Daniel Sannum Lauten/Pool/Reuters

And what happens when the Nobel Peace Prize actually helps to promote political change? As state counsellor (prime minister) of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi has presided over the bloody persecution of the Rohingya and a swiftly mounting international refugee crisis. The admired dissident has, in power, turned out not to be so great a promoter of peace and tolerance.

The ConversationThe Nobel Peace Prize Committee’s choices have been noble - but, as my research suggests, also sometimes naïve.

Ronald R. Krebs, Beverly and Richard Fink Professor in the Liberal Arts and Professor of Political Science, University of Minnesota

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

>>>>> Scroll down to view and make comments <<<<<<

Click here for Historical Opinion Post Listing










Make a Comment

Econintersect wants your comments, data and opinion on the articles posted. You can also comment using Facebook directly using he comment block below.




Econintersect Opinion








search_box
Print this page or create a PDF file of this page
Print Friendly and PDF


The growing use of ad blocking software is creating a shortfall in covering our fixed expenses. Please consider a donation to Econintersect to allow continuing output of quality and balanced financial and economic news and analysis.







Keep up with economic news using our dynamic economic newspapers with the largest international coverage on the internet
Asia / Pacific
Europe
Middle East / Africa
Americas
USA Government





























 navigate econintersect.com

Blogs

Analysis Blog
News Blog
Investing Blog
Opinion Blog
Precious Metals Blog
Markets Blog
Video of the Day
Weather

Newspapers

Asia / Pacific
Europe
Middle East / Africa
Americas
USA Government
     

RSS Feeds / Social Media

Combined Econintersect Feed
Google+
Facebook
Twitter
Digg

Free Newsletter

Marketplace - Books & More

Economic Forecast

Content Contribution

Contact

About

  Top Economics Site

Investing.com Contributor TalkMarkets Contributor Finance Blogs Free PageRank Checker Active Search Results Google+

This Web Page by Steven Hansen ---- Copyright 2010 - 2017 Econintersect LLC - all rights reserved