Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded Peace Prize to Barack Obama

President Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 by The Norwegian Nobel Committee. There have been a lot of reactions of course since this is he world’s most prestigious prize – some positive and some very negative. Since my blog is about Norway and the Nordic countries, I though I should reflect on it (even if I normally don’t post about politics). However, I want us to learn something from my posts, so let’s start with some backgrounds from the committee’s own site:

The Norwegian Committee:
Whereas the other prizes are awarded by specialist committees based in Sweden, the Peace Prize is awarded by a committee appointed by the Norwegian Parliament. According to Nobel’s will, the Peace Prize is to go to whoever “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’s reasons for the 2009 Prize:
“…for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons. …. Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. …… The Committee endorses Obama’s appeal that “Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges.”

Some reactions from Norwegians:
Jan Egeland (foreign UN’s Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs): “I think this is a great price. I am pleased that the Committee is able to wait until the last second before deciding, because I think that it was Obama’s atomic resolution in New York (September 24, editor’s note), which means the beginning of the end for nuclear weapons, as was decisive here.
It is not naïve to give him the prize; because there is precedent for that we are to inspire action. It can not at least make here is to send a strong signal to those sour grin EBIT explained that sitting on the fence around Europe, and for the portion of a divided American public opinion, which says that Obama is trying to achieve is just a lot of big words.

Nils A. Butenschøn (Norwegian Center for Human Rights): This was very surprising. It’s highly unusual, both that one receives the prize so early in his career, and that the winner does not have as much to show for. It is very early in his political careers. The U.S. president has a major impact internationally, but you still waiting for results. Obama has some initiatives, but we have not seen the results of initiatives. One may wonder if this is the wish of the Nobel Committee to achieve the status it gives to give the award to the U.S. President.

CNNs Jonathan Mann:
There are of course pro & contra about the prize for 2009 as have been for the most of them since 1901. In my opinion; Obama has way to go, but he has created a new climate in international politics and multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position. He also has started the end of the Guantanamo base and stopped the missile defence shield in Europe. What really provoked me about all this reactions however, was what Mann said:

He has for many years to come to Oslo with his CNN team to interview the winner the day before the Awards 10th of December. He did not hide the fact that the Nobel Committee can not be in step with popular opinion, neither the U.S. nor the rest of the world. “For Americans, these people are mostly social democrats and socialists, progressive types. They come from semi-socialist Scandinavian countries and have its own view of the president they love and what a president they do not like” said Mann.

I do hope not all Americans are so narrow-minded that they believe that their form for democracy is the only one which counts. Yes we believe in sharing the wealth (including public health care) and we acknowledge feminism and same sex marriage – if that is too progressive, you’re welcome after. Social democrats are no less democratic, and we are quite happy to be ranked 1st as the best country to live in according to UN’s Human Development Report 2009 so something about the social democratic process must be working quite well :-)

BTW: I have the privilege of being married to a good old American girl, so I have learned quite a bit about American politics over the years. It was a lot of fun informing her that Obama won the Peace Prize today. As most of you know she has a mind of her own, and a blog of her own, hop on over and see what she has to say about the subject.

2008 Nobel Peace Prize to Martti Ahtisaari

This year there was 197 nominees and some of the hottest candidates was; former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl; Algerian president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika; Hu Jia, Chinese activist and dissident; another Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng; Israel’s Mordechai Vanunu; Vietnamese monk Thich Quang Do; The African Union and even Bob Geldof.

The Nobel InstitueThe Nobel Committee consists of 5 members appointed by The Norwegian parliament. The committees’ composition shall reflect the relative strength of the political parties in the parliament. Members of the parliament have not been allowed to be member of the committee since 1977.
The Nobel Committee shall be entirely independent in its work. The discussions about the candidates are kept secret and the members avoid participating in the public debate after the name of the winner is announced.

The winner this year was very deserved and of course we Norwegians are proud of it too – his great grandfather came from Norway: Martti Ahtisaari from Finland:

Click for this postHis most notable achievement was overseeing the 2005 reconciliation of the Indonesian government and Free Aceh Movement (GAM) rebels, bringing an end to a three-decade conflict that killed some 15,000 people.
Ahtisaari also helped lead Kosovo down the path toward independence, even though his intense mediation efforts failed to clinch a joint agreement between Serbia and Kosovo and Pristina earlier this year unilaterally declared independence.
Prior to his involvement in the Aceh talks, Ahtisaari was unfamiliar with Asian geopolitics, but widely respected as a gifted diplomat and outstanding negotiator.
He came to the negotiations after a Finnish businessman linked to the Jakarta elite was convinced the former Finnish president had what it took to bring new life to the apparently moribund peace process.

My regular readers might remember that my candidate from last year was the farther of the Internet: Vint Cerf. In your comment I would like to hear your suggestion for a candidate next year :-)

Nobel Peace Prize to Al Gore or Vint Cerf?

You might rise your eyebrows because of this caption, but let me explain, step by step and start with todays announcement from The Norwegian Nobel Committee:

The Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 is to be shared, in two equal parts, between the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Albert Arnold (Al) Gore Jr. for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.
First of all this is a great victory for the importance of science combined with the need of a communicator to open people and nations eyes for the course. I do hope this leads to that US now will sign the Kyoto Protocol and also recognize UN as the ultimate tool for peace.

The Norwegian Committee’s last years price was given to Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank. You can read about when i met him holding his speech by clicking here. These are examples of the variety and windiness of the price and how the committee try to address different aspects of peace achievement. That brings me to today’s subject:

RennyBA’s Nomination for 2008 Peace Price:
As my regular readers know, my motto is: “Make Blogs not War” and of course there was no blogging without the Internet. So whats more natrual than awarding the father of the net: Vinton G. Cerf:

Cerf is now vice president and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google. He is widely known as a “Father of the Internet,” as he is the co-designer with Robert Kahn of TCP/IP protocols and basic architecture of the Internet. In 1997, President Clinton recognized their work with the U.S. National Medal of Technology. In 2005, Vint and Bob received the highest civilian honor bestowed in the U.S., the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It recognizes the fact that their work on the software code used to transmit data across the Internet has put them “at the forefront of a digital revolution that has transformed global commerce, communication, and entertainment”.

The grounds for my nomination: The Internet has promoted peace in every corner of the world by bringing people of different nations closer together. It has made it easier for small nations to do business with larger nations and build capital and contacts. It has spread information in and out of countries which have traditionally had closed borders, and in that way it contributes to the break down of cultural and religious barriers. The globalization process brings nations and people closer together, and as this blog is an example people from different continents and countries can exchange ideas in a free and open forum.

I will meet Vint at The Norwegian Society’s yearly IT Award Ceremony and I take it he will be thrilled by the idea :-) We have also arranged a meeting for him with The Norwegian Ministry of Government Administration and Reform, to sort out the lack of good maps and pictures from Norway at Google Earth.

You see every parliamentarian around the world can nominate for The Peace Price. So why don’t you talk to the one you know, so that we can see Mr. Cerf getting the award he deserve next year. I can assure you, I’ll do the same! Are you with me?

Muhammad Yunus awarded The Nobel Peace Prize

This evening I had the great privilege of being invited to an event celebrating the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank, which immediately preceded the Nobel Peace Prize Concert. It was a great thrill to hear his speech on how Micro-credit has proved to be an important liberating force in societies where women in particular have to struggle against repressive social and economic conditions. Economic growth and political democracy can not achieve their full potential unless the female half of humanity participates on an equal footing with the male.

All pics taken with my Nokia mobile phone – please click to enlarge!

Following the winners speech, we heard a presentation from some of the clients of Grameen Bank who told their personal and moving stories of how small loan to by e.g. sawing machine, material, or even a cow, enable them to start small businesses which eventually allowed them to work their way out of extreme poverty and even employ others within their villages. My wife remarked that this must be true feminism. I do agree as it is a big difference between women fighting for their place in management and woman who are fighting for their family and villages survival. It really shows that little people with a good idea can achieve great things.

At the end of the event, we heard music from the African drum player George Kitogo Sferunjogi from Uganda. He uses the earnings from his performances to give Micro-credits to the people of his homeland.

Of course Norwegians are proud to have the honour of presenting The Nobel Peace prize every year. Due to this we’ve had winners visiting Oslo like Mother Theresa (India), Lech Wałęsa (Poland), Elie Wiesel (USA), Dalai Lama (Tibet), Wangari Maathai (Kenya) among others.

Referral links:
The Nobel Peace Prize, Grameen Foundation, The Norwegian Nobel Institute and Nobel Peace centre in Oslo.

PS: For my regular readers: I will serve you Rakfisk tomorrow:-)

The Nobel Peace Prize Recidence

On my way from the buss to work this morning, I passed the Grand Hotel at Oslo’s main street, Karl Johan. It’s close to the parliament, the old university and the Kings Castle, so it gives you a majestic atmosphere. At this hotel, the Nobel Peace Price winner of the year take residence in the beginning of December every year to receive the award and give his speech in Oslo City Hall the 10th every December.

The Grand Hotel first opened its doors in 1874. The Louis XVI revival style building, with its hint of Nordic art nouveau and characteristic clock tower from 1913, is right on Karl Johans gate, Oslo’s main street, and stands as a symbol of a first-class hotel with tradition, atmosphere and style.

The Nobel Peace Prize for 2005 was to be shared, in two equal parts, between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and its Director General, Mohamed ElBaradei. Any suggestions for candidates in 2006?

If you like to read more about The Nobel Peace Prize, click here!
If you like to visit The Grand Hotel, click her!