Nobel Peace Prize 2014: PRIO Director's Speculations

  • In the following days you can follow Harpviken's tweeting about his speculations, the candidates and the Nobel Peace Prize in general. @BeDemocracy
  • You will also find several relevant blog posts by the Director and others on the PRIO Blog 

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 list below is Harpviken’s 2nd edition (posted 3 October), revised and updated in light of developments and events since his 1st edition was published just before the nomination deadline earlier this year.

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, this year on the 10th.

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

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

Harpviken's 2014 Nobel Peace Prize shortlist

  • Japanese people who conserve Article 9
  • Edward Snowden
  • Novaya Gazeta
  • Denis Mukwege
  • Malala Yousafzai

Harpviken's favourite for this year's prize are the Japanese people working for conserving Article 9 in the Japanese constitution, which renounces Japan's right to engage in war or to maintain military forces capable of engaging in war. 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 Novaya Gazeta, the newspaper that continues to challenge political developments in Russia, despite the loss of several of its journalists in violent attacks. Fourth on the list 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. The final candidate this year is last year's number one, 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.

About the favourites

Japanese people who conserve Article 9

Institutions matter and constitutional principles matter, particularly when rooted in popular support. Article 9 of Japan’s constitution says that the state will abstain from ‘the right of belligerency’, and that it will ‘forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.’ In Japan, a large part of the population sees this non-aggression commitment in its constitution, effective as of 1946, as the main cause the country has stayed out of war ever since. In a region characterized by deep tensions, there are concerns that, the reinterpretation of Article 9 in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government earlier this year, is the precursor of armed confrontation. A group of citizens, including many Abe-supporters, have formed the “Japanese people who conserve Article 9”, seeing international recognition – such as the Nobel Peace Prize – as important in preserving what they see as the manifestation of a basic national value (there are also other groups working for the same cause). We may have come to think of wars between states as virtually extinct after the end of the Cold War, but events in Ukraine and simmering tensions in East Asia remind us they may reappear, and a return to a principle often hailed in earlier periods of the Peace Prize would be well timed.

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. In Norway, speculations about his candidacy has triggered a debate about whether or not the Nobel prize’s host state would allow him to come and receive the award without being arrested.

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, but Harpviken believes Novaya Gazeta is the more likely candidate.

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 (including 2014, see below). Topped by the UK-hosted Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, there has been considerable attention to the topic in 2014. 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.]

Malala Yousafzai

Malala was probably the people’s favourite for the peace prize last year, and may be reconsidered this year. She could be awarded the prize for her fight for education, for girls’ and women’s rights, or for standing up for tolerance and against extremism, all areas in which she has set a mark. 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 has been a vocal defender of the right to education, for girls and boys alike. She has also spoken out against political extremism and violence, and for a political voice for youth. 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).

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.


Contact points

Portrait Harpviken Kristian Berg Harpviken
 PRIO Director

Portrait Berggrav Halvor Berggrav
 Adviser to the Director