Nobel Peace Prize 2018: PRIO Director's Shortlist

Based on independent assessments, PRIO Directors have offered their personal shortlists for the Nobel Peace Prize every year since 2002. 

The Norwegian Nobel Committee  bases its decision on valid nominations received by the 31 January deadline.  Anyone can be nominated (and history indeed shows a few rather dubious nominees, including Hitler), 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 five committee members have until their first meeting after the deadline to add nominations of their own. The Director of PRIO holds the right to nominate, but refrains, given his active role as a commentator. He has no form of association with the Nobel Institute or the Norwegian Nobel Committee. Read more here.

The laureate will be announced, as per usual, on the Friday of the first full week of October.

Following the shortlist, you will also find a list of known nominations.

For questions, requests for further information or interviews,
please contact Henrik Urdal or Iver Kleiven directly. 


Henrik Urdal's 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Shortlist

  1. Dr. Denis Mukwege & Nadia Murad
  2. World Food Programme
  3. Oby Ezekwesili & EITI
  4. International Memorial
  5. Can Dündar & Cumhuriyet

Dr. Denis Mukwege & Nadia Murad

The early frontrunners for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize should be Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad, two people who have been leading figures in bringing attention to sexual violence in conflict. Although their experiences and practices differ greatly, there can be no doubt about the potency of their global advocacy work against sexual violence in conflict. Denis Mukwege has provided treatment for thousands of women and is a world-renowned expert on repairing the physical damage from rape and sexual violence. Through the work done at his Panzi Hospital in Bakuvu, Democratic Republic of Congo, he has been instrumental in drawing the world’s attention to these kinds of crimes. In addition to Mukwege, who has featured on both mine and my predecessor’s shortlist earlier, the work of Nadia Murad as an international advocate against sexual violence in conflict deserves recognition. Murad, one of the thousands of Yazidi women and girls who were abducted and held by the Islamic State as slaves, has worked relentlessly to bring attention to victims of sexual violence in wars. While there is increased focus and criminal prosecution of sexual violence in armed conflicts, we see that groups use it in new and systematic ways. Therefore, the highlighting of Murad’s case takes on a new dimension of importance. However, she’s not only a spokesperson for victims of sexual violence in conflict, but also for her people – and, alongside her attorney Amal Clooney, she’s working the international system for Islamic State members to be prosecuted, taking her case all the way to the UN for justice. Murad has won the Sakharov human rights prize along with fellow Yazidi Lamiya Aji Bashir, who would also be a worthy candidate for recognition in a year celebrating the 10-year anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1820, which explicitly recognizes the use of sexual violence as a tactic of war and a war crime.

[For the sake of transparency, it should be noted that PRIO researchers have collaborated with Mukwege and the Panzi Hospital for a research project on female empowerment.]

World Food Programme

Hunger is once more one of the big humanitarian challenges of our times, with various hunger crises emerging in the wake of armed conflicts. The World Food Programme is the leading humanitarian organization tackling the hunger issue worldwide. Whether food insecurity follows due to armed conflicts such as in Syria and Yemen (where over 17 million people depend on the WFP for survival, according to their own statistics) or internal displacement and ethnic tensions such as in Myanmar, the WFP is ever-present.

While the evidence for an impact of food security on violent conflict remains tenuous, it is well established that armed conflict severely affects food security. Indeed, the final report of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals rightfully identifies armed conflict as the main reason for failures to meet the MDG target of increased food security. Hence, while reducing food insecurity in itself might not be the most important peacebuilding measure, conflict prevention and food security remain intrinsically linked.

A Nobel Peace Prize to the WFP would highlight the crucial work the organization is doing for populations fleeing from conflict, while also ensuring continued commitment from its funders to keep up their endeavors to make sure victims of conflict, displacement and natural disasters are fed and cared for. Hopefully this will also pave the way for further conflict prevention measures. Hunger crises might not get the headlines that wars and armed conflicts do, but they are just as – if not more – deadly. 


Oby Ezekwesili & EITI

Corruption is a main driver of social upheavals around the globe, underpinning recent major developments like the Arab Spring. Corruption also thrives during and after war, and many conflict-affected countries are among the most corrupt in the world. Oby Ezekwesili, former Minister of Education in Nigeria and Vice President for Africa in the World Bank and one of the founders of Transparency International, has been an international champion in the fight against corruption. Ezekwesili was also the Federal Minister of Solid Minerals and the Chairperson of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), leading the first ever national implementation of the global EITI standards.

Ezekwesili and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) are worthy candidates because of their efforts in making the world more transparent and less corrupt. The link between armed conflict and high-value natural resources is strong: EITI was established in 2003 as a direct response to the mounting evidence showing that poor governance of natural resources may lead to an economic ‘resource curse’ and increased conflict. Increased transparency over extraction processes and financial results has led to a more sober and nuanced debate about the extractive industries and their output, and has the potential to help defuse conflicts and reducing tensions before they even happen. EITI’s efforts to create multi-stakeholder groups in which civil society is involved is a model case for inclusiveness in such a politically and economically important issue.

Anti-corruption and transparency champions have not traditionally been considered as obvious candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize. Yet, natural resources, transparency, corruption and conflict are intrinsically linked. This important work by individuals and organizations like Ezekwesili and EITI is deserving of attention, and a Nobel Peace Prize to the field of anti-corruption and transparency would be a welcome boost now that key actors such as the U.S. have abandoned the EITI by the wayside.


International Memorial

Russian civil society organization International Memorial monitors human rights in Russia and works to put Russia and the Soviet Union’s totalitarian past on the record. In an ever more repressive environment, Memorial defends and upholds its ideals with quiet dignity, and provides a welcome shining light for democracy, civil society, and human rights in Russia. In 2016 Memorial was listed as a “foreign agent” by the Russian government, a tactic Human Rights Watch say is used to “demonize” dissenting voices. The organization and its members have also suffered arrests, abuse, and attempted murder, as well as the arson of offices in Chechnya and the Northern Caucasus.

With the upcoming presidential election likely to see Vladimir Putin reelected without any notable change to his platform, Memorial is needed more than ever to remind Russians and the world that the spread of authoritarianism has to be countered and fought against.  

One of Memorial’s founding members, Svetlana Gannushkina, has been listed on the PRIO Director’s Nobel shortlist earlier – for her efforts helping migrants and refugees in Russia. However, every man and woman who contributes to make Memorial the great organization it is deserves credit and recognition. A Nobel Peace Prize to Memorial would be an acknowledgement of the peaceful efforts made by Russian civil society to oppose authoritarianism and advocate freedom, democracy, and human rights in Russia. 


Can Dündar & Cumhuriyet

Exiled Cumhuriyet editor Can Dündar and his erstwhile paper remain symbols of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s crackdown on the freedom of the press in Turkey. Dündar has faced charges of disclosing state secrets and aiding a terrorist group, and later fled to Germany where he still resides. Similar charges have been filed against several of Cumhuriyet staff, and many of the court cases are still ongoing. The acts for which they are indicted amount to no more than doing their jobs as journalists by pursuing independent and critical reporting. Dündar himself was awarded the International Press Freedom Award by The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in 2016.

Dündar and the newspaper where he served as a columnist and later editor-in-chief, Cumhuriyet, are disheartening examples of how far freedom of the press has declined in Turkey. One of Turkey’s oldest newspapers and a steadfast secular and republican-leaning publication, Cumhuriyet has been renowned for its independent reporting and fearlessness in criticizing the authorities – underscored by it being awarded the 2015 Freedom of the Press Prize by Reporters without Borders for its stand against mounting government pressure.

A Nobel Peace Prize to Can Dündar and Cumhuriyet would be a welcome boost for press freedom and civil society in a country where such liberties are becoming rarer. It would also underline Erdogan’s unacceptable dismantling of Turkey’s democracy. 


Nominations for the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize

Please note that this list is still being updated and that not all entries may yet be correct.

The below list is based on available information in the press, on the web or provided to us directly. It is surely far from exhaustive, as the Nobel Committee each year receives more than 200 nominations. Nominators are asked not to disclose their nominations, and the committee’s proceedings are kept secret for 50 years. Consequently, we cannot guarantee that the committee indeed has received a specific nomination, nor, in some cases, whether the nominator is eligible. As long as the nominator fulfils the criteria, any one person or organization may be nominated (the nominations of Hitler and Stalin being cases in point). The committee may also add names to the list, themselves. They base their final selection on specifications in Alfred Nobel's will. The committee's interpretation of the will is disputed by the Nobel Peace Prize Watch, however, and the NPPW keep their own list of nominations deemed qualified according to their reading of the will.

  • The Giulio Andreotti Institute and Secret Archives has been nominated (confirmed by US nominator).
  • Patricia Chilelli,  Director of the Giulio Andreotti Institute and Secret Archives has been nominated (confirmed by US nominator).
  • Donald J. Trump, President of the USA, is nominated for ‘his peace through strength ideology, and for restarting President Reagan’s SDI-BHB secret weapons system, to neutralize nuclear weapons and make them obsolete’ (confirmed by US nominator).
  • Lions Club International is reportedly nominated.
  • Gavin Ashenden, resigned Reverend of the Church of England. Article figures with headline nominated for Nobel Peace Prize, but the details are unclear. See for instance the Gatestone Institute.
  • The Bulgarian Orthodox Church, the nomination of which was initiated by "former Israeli Minister of Health and Deputy General Dr. Ephraim Snekh, Haifa University law professor Moshe Keshet, and attorney Moshe Aloni, boasting the signatures of over 200 surviving Bulgarian Jews" rescued during the second World War.
  • Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman is the object of many a campaign website (on Facebook for instance), but no actual nomination is to be found.
  • Medea Benjamin, co-founder of peace group CODEPINK and human rights group Global Exchange, has been nominated by Nobel Laureate of 1977, Mairead Maguire.
  • Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, is nominated by head of the French think-tank Center of Political and Foreign Affairs (CFPA), Fabien Baussart, according to Russia's state-led news agency Sputnik.
  • The Club of Rome,
  • Herman Daly, and
  • Pope Francis are all proposed for a Nobel Peace Prize for sustainable development efforts, but it is not clear if any qualified nominators have actually done so. Pope Francis appears to be have been nominated by Norwegian MP Knut Arild Hareide, however.
  • Jaqcues Chirac, former President of France, has been nominated by a group of supporters, one of which appears to be an MP and thus a qualified nominator, according to Le Figaro.
  • Edward Snowden has been nominated by a group of Swedish MPs.
  • Marwan Barghouti, Palestinian activist, was reportedly nominated for the 2017 Prize by Nobel Laureate of 1984 Desmond Tutu, IMEU tweeted in June last year.
  • Maiti Nepal, organization working against human trafficking, nominated by US Professor of History Steven Burg.
  • Article 9 Association, Japanese group in favour of Article 9 in the constitution (renouncing war and a standing army), nominated by Japanese MP Konishi Hiroyuki.
  • The White Helmets are nominated (confirmed) by a Swedish MP.
  • ECOWAS is also nominated (confirmed) by a Swedish MP.
  • Dr. Daisaku Ikeda is nominated by 1976 Nobel laureate Betty Williams (confirmed by Williams).
  • Douglas Roche, long-time disarmament campaigner and former MP of the Canadian Parliament (nominated by a group of Canadians including Firdaus Kharas, Erika Simpson).
  • Tong Zeng, chairman of the Chinese Association for Claiming Compensation from Japan (from WWII), and
  • Onodera Toshitaka, Japanese lawyer  representing Chinese victims, are co-nominated acording to China Daily.
  • Zafra Lerman, scientist and human rights activist, and President of the Malta Conferences Foundation (Using science as a bridge to peace in the Middle East) nominated by a member of the US Congress and a second nomination by US Professor Emerita in Anthropology Joan Erdman. 
  • Sheikh Hasina Wajed, Prime Minister of Bangladesh is mentioned in relation to the prize frequently after her country has received the stream of Rohingyas fleeing Myanmar, but these events took place only recently and we have no information of a nomination in time for the deadline. 
  • Ethan Gutmann, journalist and author, is reportedly nominated for his efforts on behalf of the Falun Dafa movement.
Do you have additional (confirmed) nominations to add to the list? Let us know!