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Nobel Peace Prize Jury Under Investigation

Probe: Has Nobel Peace Prize Lost Its Way?

- Common Dreams staff

Today marks the 2012 deadline for nominations for this year's Nobel Peace Prize, but as the prize committee meets this year to discuss what individual or group has "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," they will be under heightened scrutiny to be sure their choice fulfills the original intent of its founder, Alfred Nobel.

The reason for the heightened pressure rests on an investigation by the Stockholm County Administrative Board of the committee's recent choices prompted by 'persistent complaints' by author and peace researcher, Fredrik Heffermehl, and roundly criticized choices by the committee in recent years -- most notably US President Barack Obama, a war commander governing over numerous military conflicts at the time he was awarded the auspicious "peace" prize in 2009.

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Heffermehl, author of the book The Nobel Peace Prize: What Nobel Really Wanted and a Norwegian lawyer, argues that the Nobel committee has violated the terms of Alfred Nobel’s will, which established the prize. He states that for decades, the parties in the Norwegian parliament have misused the Nobel committee seats to reward party veterans lacking insight in the peace ideas that Nobel wished to support. Heffermehl writes that over half of the awards since 1946 have not conformed with the intention of Nobel, who wished to change the international system in order to end wars and armaments.

Heffermehl said today:

The Swedish inquiry responds to a complaint against mismanagement that I lodged last month. The Nobel Foundation has been asked to comment in particular on the secret private diaries of former committee chair Gunnar Jahn which indicate that no attention is paid to the directives in Nobel´s will. These diaries, [which were published for the first time by Heffermehl] show that Jahn repeatedly protested in vain against awards that ignored the intentions of Nobel. The diaries clearly demonstrate that the Norwegian awarding Committee already 50 years ago ceased to pay any regard to Nobel and what he wanted.

The Norwegian Parliament had already then taken over the Nobel award and started using it as their own. I have now struggled for four years to have the committee respect the rights of the intended recipients, but I’ve found that in Norway there is no interest in Alfred Nobel and what he wanted.

The Swedish inquiry also encourages the Board of the Nobel Foundation to comment on an article by a member of the Nobel family, Michael Nobel, who in an article last month in Aftenposten said that Norway may be deprived of control over the prize if the mismanagement continues.

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According to Reuters:

"Do you see Obama as a promoter of abolishing the military as a tool of international affairs?"
-Fredrik Heffermehl

Sweden Questions Nobel Peace Prize Selection Basis

...In [Heffermehl's] view the last qualified peace prize winners were the United Nations and its then-secretary general, Kofi Annan, in 2001.

Heffermehl [...] won the ear of Stockholm County Administrative Board, whose duties extend to making sure the country's 7,300 registered foundations fulfill the wishes of their dead benefactors.

"Mr. Heffermehl has a couple of good arguments," Mikael Wiman, the board's attorney, told Reuters after he sent a letter this week to the Stockholm-based Nobel Foundation board seeking comment.

Heffermehl's approval did not include Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), who won the prize jointly in 2007 for their work on climate change, and certainly not to Barack Obama, who won the prize in 2009 for "extraordinary efforts" in international diplomacy.

"Do you see Obama as a promoter of abolishing the military as a tool of international affairs?" Heffermehl asked rhetorically.

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The Associated Press reports this morning:

Nobel Peace Prize Jury Under Investigation

Nobel Peace Prize officials were facing a formal inquiry over accusations they have drifted away from the prize's original selection criteria by choosing such winners as President Barack Obama, as the nomination deadline for the 2012 awards closed Wednesday.  [...]

If the Stockholm County Administrative Board, which supervises foundations in Sweden's capital, finds that prize founder Alfred Nobel's will is not being honored, it has the authority to suspend award decisions going back three years — though that would be unlikely and unprecedented, said Mikael Wiman, a legal expert working for the county.

Obama won in 2009, Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo won in 2010, and last year the award was split between Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian activist Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman of Yemen.

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