PRIO Network

Nobel Peace Prize 2014: PRIO Director's Speculations

Each year, PRIO Director Kristian Berg Harpviken presents his own shortlist for the Nobel Peace Prize. While the director of a peace research institute may be well placed for this, Harpviken's speculations do not confirm nor endorse any candidate. He has chosen not to nominate anyone. Neither the Director nor the Peace Research Institute Oslo have formal links to the Norwegian Nobel Institute and the Nobel Committee.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee basis its decision on valid nominations received by the 1 February deadline (in addition to potential nominations put forth by the Committee members at their first meeting after the deadline). Anyone can be nominated, but only a number of people have the right to nominate, including members of national assemblies and governments, current and former members of the Committee, Peace Prize laureates, professors of certain disciplines, directors of peace research and foreign policy institutes, and members of international courts. The laureate is normally announced at 11 o'clock on the Friday of the first full week in October, which would be the 10th this year.

On 4 March the Committee announced yet another record number of nominations: 231 individuals and 47 organizations; that is, 278 nominations alltogether.

We also maintain a list of possible and confirmed nominations (below).

Harpviken's 2014 Nobel Peace Prize shortlist

  • Pope Francis
  • Edward Snowden
  • Malala Yousafzai
  • Novaya Gazeta
  • Denis Mukwege

Harpviken's favourite for this year's prize is Pope Francis, for his robust call to fight poverty, foster development, and redistribute wealth. Second on Harpviken's list is Edward Snowden, the US whistleblower who brought about a sea change in public awareness about surveillance. Number three is Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who stood up against Taliban's ban on education for girls and became a global symbol of children's right to education and security, and who was last year’s favourite. Fourth on the list is Novaya Gazeta, the newspaper that continues to challenge political developments in Russia, despite the loss of several of its journalists in violent attacks. The last candidate on this year’s shortlist is the Congolese physician and gynaecologist Denis Mukwege, the man behind the Panzi Hospital for women, and a leading figure in the fight against sexual violence worldwide.

About the favourites

Pope Francis

The massively unjust global distribution of wealth is detrimental to peace. Economic inequality, particularly when coinciding with boundaries between groups, is closely associated with armed conflict. Since taking over the Papacy on 13 March 2013, Pope Francis has brought attention to the fate of the poor, and the need for a new approach to development and economic redistribution. Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2014, the Pope called for a "renewed, profound and broadened sense of responsibility on the part of all". The need for a new approach also figured centrally in his Papal statement. Beyond his notable efforts for the poor, which in Harpviken’s opinion would be the main justification for awarding him the 2014 Peace Prize, Pope Francis has also instilled new hope for reform of the Catholic Church. He has himself adopted a more modest appearance than his predecessors, uses social media extensively, and signals accessibility for the common man and woman.

Edward Snowden

Justified by the demand on states to protect themselves and their citizens, and enabled by technological development, surveillance is today at a level where we must all expect that most of what we do, in one way or another, is monitored by intelligence agencies under little democratic controls. Edward Snowden, a contractor for the US National Security Agency (NSA) alerted the world when he leaked enormous volumes of documentation to the press in the summer of 2013. Arguably, the main front in a global battle for information control, with severe implications for individual rights and democracy, is in the form of electronic surveillance. Others, including Julian Assange and Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning, have reportedly been nominated earlier, but Snowden is likely to stand a better chance, due to the fact that his leaks include little that can directly compromise the security and wellbeing of individuals. Yet, Snowden’s leaks remain controversial, and despite the fact that documents leaked by him is increasingly forming the basis for charges against, and reforms in, the US security apparatus, many continue to see him as a traitor and a criminal.

Malala Yousafzai

The right to education is one of the first victims of conflict, which either stalls schooling altogether or politicizes it in ways that deepen cleavages and undermine opportunities for reconciliation. Education is not only a fundamental right; it is also closely associated with democracy. Malala Yousafzai, a popular 2013 favourite for the Nobel Peace Prize, has been a vocal defender of the right to education, the need for youth to have a political voice, and against political extremism and violence. Malala first appeared on the stage in September 2008, when she, at age eleven, spoke out against the way in which the Taliban take-over of the Swat valley deprived its children and youth of the right to education. Severely injured in an attack in late 2012, Malala underwent extensive medical treatment in the UK, and has already, despite her young age, become a global advocate for the right to education. Malala is nominated for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize (see below).

Novaya Gazeta

Independent reporting and free media is widely seen to positively contribute to peace, holding governments and others accountable. Despite of this, no peace prize has been awarded to the media. Developments in Russia, where the state security apparatus have severely restricted the space for public expression, draw attention to its few remaining independent media. The Novaya Gazeta was set up in 1993 at the initiative of Mikhail Gorbachev, who devoted part of his Nobel Peace Prize money for the purpose. The newspaper has since experienced the killings of several of its journalists. Its website has been exposed to numerous cyberattacks. There are other leading media outlets in Russia that could merit equal attention, including the Echo of Moscow radio station and the TV station Dozhd.

Denis Mukwege

Sexual violence follows war and often takes on forms both during and in the aftermath of armed conflict. For over a decade, gynaecologist Denis Mukwege has given medical treatment to survivors of sexual violence. In 1999 he founded the Panzi Hospital in Bakuvu, DR Congo with a primary purpose of taking care of victims of sexual violence. Originally built for 120 patients, the hospital today treats over 400 patients per month and sadly the need for the hospital is as high as ever. Apart from having treated thousands of women and being considered one of the globally leading experts on repairing the physical damage from rape and sexual violence, Mukwege is somewhat of a grassroots hero in DR Congo and one of the world's most visible advocates of combatting sexual violence. He draws the world's attention to the brutality and consequences of these kinds of crimes, has been recipient of several awards for his work, and nominated for several years for the Nobel Peace Prize (inlcuding 2014, see below). Harpviken finds that both the person Mukwege and the cause for which he fights would be acknowledged by awarding him this year's Nobel Peace Prize. [For the sake of transparency, it should be noted that PRIO researchers are collaborating with Mukwege and the Panzi Hospital for a research project on female empowerment.]

Alternative directions

There are a number of other topics that would merit a Nobel Peace Prize. One such topic is multicultural understanding, which is still high on the Norwegian agenda after the terror attacks in Oslo and Utøya on 22 July 2011, but also an important concern in large parts of the world. Indisputably in line with the core intent expressed in Nobel's will is disarmament, the main justification of last year’s price to the OPCW. This could very well merit two prizes in a row, if the committee observes worthy achievements (nuclear arms, small arms, and robotic weapons are all relevant topics). Given the role of food shortages in triggering recent uprisings in North Africa and elsewhere, food security has re-emerged as a potential theme, last recognized in 1970 with the Nobel Peace Prize to Norman Borlaug. China’s Yuan Longping and India’s Mankombu Sambasivan Swaminathan are nominated on this basis (see below). Finally, peacemaking is always a topic to watch out for. Both mediators and representatives of the parties can be candidates, and a variety of interesting processes are under way (including Burma, Colombia, Tunisia, US-Iran). Concrete achievements could very well imply that a prize goes in this direction.

Nominations for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize

Below is a list of confirmed and possible nominations based on available information in the press, web or provided to us directly. There are eligibility criteria for nominators, but anyone can be nominated (though the prize is not awarded posthumously). The list below is not quality assured in terms of whether the nominator is eligible, nor as to whether the committee indeed has received a nomination letter. The list is by no means complete, but aims to be the best possible attempt given the restraints on information.

  • Edward Snowden, US surveillance whistleblower. Nominated by Norwegian MPs from Socialist Left, Snorre Valen and Bård Vegar Solhjell
  • Denis Mukwege, Congolese gynaecologist and advocate against sexual violence. Confirmed nomination by Norwegian MPs from Socialist Left, Karin Andersen and Audun Lysbakken.
  • Igor Kochetkov (Russia), Frank Mugisha (Uganda), Sunil Babu Pant (Nepal) and ILGA, The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association; for their fights for LGBT rights. Nominated by Norwegian MPs from Labour, Anette Trettebergstuen and Håkon Haugli.
  • Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security policy, along with Prime Ministers of Serbia and Kosovo, Ivaca Dačić and Hashim Thaçi. Nominated by European Parliament member Johannes Swoboda (Austria), President of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialist & Democrats in the European Parliament, for the three's conciliatory efforts in Balkan.
  • National Priorities Project, a US research organization nominated by the International Peace Bureau for its "clear and steadfast commitment to re-allocating the enormous sums devoted to the military".
  • Ales Bialitski, Belarusian human rights activist. Nominated by Polish MPs.
  • Yuan Longping, the Chinese 'father of hybrid rice', along with Indian geneticist Mankombu Sambasivan Swaminathan. Nominated by Norwegian MP from Centre Party, Trygve Slagsvold Vedum, for their contributions to food security and provision (confirmed in Norwegian daily Aftenposten, 30 January).
  • Vladimir Putin, President of Russia. Reportedly nominated by the International Academy of Spiritual Unity and Cooperation Among the Nations of the World and backed by Russian MP Iosif Kobzon, for his averting of an air strike on Syria after the chemical gas attacks in August 2013.
  • Mother Agnes Mariam of the Cross (Fadia Laham) and the Mussalaha (Reconciliation) Initiative in Syria. Nominated by Peace Prize laureate Mairead Maguire.
  • Malala Yousafzai. Nominated by Norwegian MPs from Labour, Magne Rommetveit and Freddy de Ruiter.
  • The Giulio Andreotti Institute and Secret Archives and its Director, Patricia Chilelli. Confirmed by US nominator
  • Chelsea Manning, US whistleblower. Nominated (jointly with Manning) by Icelandic MP from the Pirate Party, Birgitta Jónsdóttir.
  • José Mujica, President of Uruguay. Nominated by the Drugs Peace Institute, for his legalizing of marijuana.
  • James Anaya, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Nominated by Norwegian MP from Socialist Left, Torgeir Knag Fylkesnes.
  • The "people of Lampedusa, represented by the highest authority of the island". Nominated by Norwegian Professor Elisabeth Eide, in the context of their receiving of and co-existence with boat refugees coming to the island.
  • The International Space Station (ISS) is nominated, according to Space Safety Magazine.
  • Jockin Arputham and Shack/Slum Dwellers International. Nominated by Swedish Minister for Public Administration and Housing, Stefan Attefall, for their decades of struggle for the poor, against urban inequality and social strife.
  • Gene Sharp, nonviolence advocate and peace researcher. Nominated by the American Friends Service Committee.
  • The Nansen Dialogue Network. Nominated by Bosnia and Herzegovina Minister of Education and Science, Damir Mašić, for the organization's work to rebuild trust and confidence in the Balkans.
  • Military Religious Freedom Foundation provides a nomination text on their website (nominator's name omitted). 
  • Article Nine of the Japanese Constitution has apparently been nominated, which in effect means that the entire Japanese people would be receipients should the nomination be successful. Article Nine came into effect in 1947 and renounces Japan's right to engage in war or to maintain military forces.
  • Abdullah Öcalan, founder of the militant organization Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) was nominated by Iraqi MP Heval Kostani, but presumably too late for the 2014 prize.
  • Tunisia's labour union UGTT nominated for its role in the mediation and compromise between the secular and religious political sides in Tunisia, following the uprisings in 2011 and the ensuing end of the Ben Ali dictatorship.
  • Dr Catherine Hamlin, nominated by Ethiopian Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr. Tedros Edhanom, for her work on the treatment and prevention of obstetric fistula in Ethiopia.


Contact points

Portrait Harpviken Kristian Berg Harpviken
 PRIO Director

Portrait Berggrav Halvor Berggrav
 Adviser to the Director