Nobel Peace Prize 2016: PRIO Director's Speculations

Based on independent assessments, PRIO Directors have offered their personal shortlists for the Nobel Peace Prize each year since 2002. Holding the position since 2009, these are Kristian Berg Harpviken's eighth speculations. While he may be a relevant commentator on the issue, his speculations do not confirm, nor endorse, any candidate, and are not in any manner based on privileged access to the decision-making of the Norwegian Nobel Committee. Neither the Director, nor the Institute he leads, have any form of association with the Nobel Institute or the Norwegian Nobel Committee. Read more here.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee bases 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. As such, the Director of PRIO holds the right to nominate, but refrains, given his active role as a commentator.

This year saw another record number of nominations, 376 in total, of which 228 individuals and 148 organisations. The 2016 laureate will be announced at 11AM on Friday 7 October.

Questions, requests for further information or interview, please contact Harpviken or his adviser Halvor Berggrav directly.


Harpviken's 2016 Nobel Peace Prize shortlist

  1. Svetlana Gannushkina
  2. Ernest Moniz and Ali Akbar Salehi
  3. The White Helmets (Syrian Civil Defense)
  4. Edward Snowden
  5. Jeanne Nacatche Banyere, Jeannette Kahindo Bindu and Dr. Denis Mukwege


Svetlana Gannushkina

Svetlana Gannushkina is standing up for the rights of migrants – including refugees and asylum-seekers – in Russia, and as such plays an important role in drawing attention to one of the most challenging issues of our time – in a year when the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports an all-time-high figure of 65.3 million people displaced globally. Simultaneously, the debate on refugee hosting is becoming alarmingly contentious across the West (and, perhaps also in the rest of the world). In this situation, Gannushkina has initiated the Civic Assistance Committee, which offers legal aid and education to migrants. Gannushkina’s current engagement for refugees is simply an extension of her life-long commitment to justice, equality and historical reconciliation. She was, for example, a founding member of the Russian organization Memorial, emphasizing the importance of coming to terms with history as a key to present day rights, democracy and reconciliation. Gannushkina has also been a member of Russia’s Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights. While a prize to Gannushkina would first and foremost be a prize for her remarkable contributions to upholding the rights of migrants – as well as for justice and reconciliation more broadly – it would also draw attention to the problematic record of the current Russian leadership, both domestically and internationally.

Ernest Moniz and Ali Akbar Salehi

Second to the above peace treaty only, perhaps, the most notable diplomatic achievement in recent time is the July 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action). In January 2016, IAEA verified that Iran had completed its steps under the deal to ensure the nuclear program remains peaceful, and lifting of sanctions could be commenced. Half a year later, and we have seen a considerable ease of tensions, renewed diplomatic contact and – although slower than many had hoped – business and trade picking up. Many pundits speculated last year that the Nobel Peace Prize could well go to the likes of Mohammed Javad Zarif, John Kerry and Federica Mogherini. This year, I rather suggest that Ernest Moniz, the US Energy Secretary, and Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, are worthy and likely candidates. Serving as chief negotiators on behalf of the US and Iran, the two used their shared background from MIT to reach an agreement in spite of the differences and long-lasting grievances between their respective countries. They even made it onto Foreign Policy’s 2015 Global Thinkers list, and have received much of the credit for the (so far) considerable success of the Iran Nuclear Deal. A fine example of science diplomacy – the activation of scholarly competence to build bridges between people and nations, the Guardian referred to their collaboration as the physics of diplomacy  – and the world will hope to reap the benefits for years to come.

The White Helmets

The Syrian Civil Defense – better known as the ‘White Helmets’ – could be an ideal candidate for saving lives, ameliorating human suffering, and maintaining a ray of hope in Syria’s all-encompassing war. A prize to the White Helmets would not be a prize only for humanitarian efforts, it would also draw attention to the remarkable – yet rarely celebrated – resilient forces of societies hit by armed conflict. Equally important, the White Helmets carry the tradition of the non-violent protest movements whose political call for change was caught between President Assad’s military onslaught and the violent response of a wide array of resistance groups, including many adopting extreme worldviews and terror tactics. The commitment and sacrifice of the White Helmets have been widely noted (even with a recent Netflix movie). This has inspired a campaign for the Nobel (not necessarily an advantage), but also widespread accusations that the White Helmets are a Western creation operating in sync with extremist groups (most certainly a misrepresentation), their “real” mission being the ousting of Assad rather than the saving of lives by digging survivors out of the rubble of bombed buildings. Composed of regular citizens – mostly young men – the Helmets have increasingly had access to skills training supported by a variety of external donors, offered mainly in Turkey.

Edward Snowden

Could 2016 be Edward Snowden’s year? His role in alerting citizens across the globe about the extent – and the dangers – of electronic surveillance is undisputable. Even in the US, Snowden’s revelations have led to political and legal reforms  that increasingly makes the official view that he is a traitor  seem untenable. In October last year, the EU parliament passed a vote  where it called on its members to "drop any criminal charges”, to grant Snowden protection and to prevent extradition, “in recognition of his status as a whistle-blower and international human rights defender". Snowden was a contractor for the US National Security Agency (NSA) when he leaked enormous volumes of documentation to the press in the summer of 2013. Others, including Julian Assange and Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning, have reportedly been nominated earlier, but Snowden’s candidacy is stronger, given both his recognition that leaking needs to be balanced with a concern for the security of individuals, and his principled reflections on the debate on surveillance and security. Yet, the Snowden leaks remain controversial , also in Norway, where speculations about his candidacy 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.

Jeanne Nacatche Banyere, Jeannette Kahindo Bindu and Dr. Denis Mukwege

With armed conflict and war, sexual violence very often follows, both during and after actual battle action. Three individuals with a long-standing engagement against sexual violence are Mama Jeanne, Mama Jeannette and Dr. Mukwege from DR Congo. Through their church network, the two women have been involved since the early 2000s, leading the work of seeking out survivors of sexual violence all across the country, providing support and ensuring that they receive treatment and help. Gynaecologist Denis Mukwege, on the other hand, set up the Panzi Hospital in Bakuvu, dedicated to providing treatment to these women. Mukwege has personally treated thousands of women and is today a leading expert on repairing the physical damage from rape and sexual violence, and has been instrumental in drawing the world's attention to the brutality and consequences of these kinds of crimes. By awarding the trio’s local, grassroots and on-the-ground actions with a Nobel Prize, the Nobel committee has a chance to strengthen the visibility of sexual violence in war as a global problem. [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].


Nominations for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize

The list below attempts to reflect all confirmed and possible nominations, and is based on available information in the press, on the web or provided to us directly. The list is 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 fulfills the criteria, any one person or organization may be nominated. 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 each year that they deem within the criteria of the will (all also included in the list below).

  • 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).
  • Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Malay politician and former deputy prime minister, is nominated by a group of NGOs, according to The Rakyat Post. [It is unclear whether there is a valid nominator behind this.]
  • Xi Jinping's potential nomination is mentioned, for instance on
  • Ma Ying-Jeou, president of Taiwan is also mentioned as a potential nomine, for instance by The Straits Times.
  • The Greek Aegean islanders have been put forth by a group of academics for the Peace Prize, for their efforts for the boat migrants in the Mediterranean. The committee is likely only to accept specific names or organisations, however. 
  • The Aegean Solidarity Movement could be eligible as a representative for the Greek islanders. Their nomination is endorsed by Desmond Tutu.
  • Emilia Kamvisi, Greek 85 year old, along with two other women, are also nominated as symbols of the Greek islanders assistance to the boat refugees.
  • Stratis Valiamos, Greek fisherman "who has rescued scores of refugees from drowning" is reportedly also nominated, as is
  • Susan Sarandon, American actress "who spent Christmas helping refugees in Greece", reportedly nominated by Greek academics and the Hellenic Olympic Committee.
  • Nadia Murad Basee Taha, Yazidi who was previously held as sexual slave by the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), reportedly nominated by the Iraqi government. Also nominated by Audun Lysbakken, Norwegian MP representing Socialist Left.
  • Yuan Longping, Chinese agricultural scientist is nominated by Norwegian MP Trygve Slagsvold Vedum, representing Centre Party.
  • Mankombu Sambasivan Swaminathan Indian geneticist is nominated by Norwegian MP Trygve Slagsvold Vedum, representing Centre Party.
  • CGIAR, the global agricultural research partnership, has been nominated by Norwegian MP Trygve Slagsvold Vedum, representing Centre Party.
  • Tony deBrum, Marshallese politician and government minister, is nominated by the International Peace Bureau and its Secretary General Colin Archer.
  • Nuclear Zero team, the legal team appointed by the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) to handle its nuclear weapons cases have been nominated by the International Peace Bureau and its Secretary General Colin Archer.
  • Donald J. Trump, businessman and candidate for the Republican Party's presidential primaries this year, is nominated for ‘his vigorous peace through strength ideology, used as a threat weapon of deterrence against radical Islam, ISIS, nuclear Iran and Communist China’ (confirmed by US nominator).
  • Denis Mukwege, Congolese gynaecologist and outspoken advocate against sexual violence, is nominated by Norwegian MP Audun Lysbakken, representing Socialist Left.
  • Abdul Sattar Edhi, Pakistani philanthropist and humanitarian, is nominated by Nobel peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai.
  • Afghan Cycling Federation's women's team is nominated by a group of 118 Italian MPs (in part in lieu of the bicycle in general not being eligible). The nomination was submitted, of course, by a representative having cycled from Italy to Oslo.
  • The Club of Rome is endorsed by Desmond Tutu "for the significant contributions to global understanding of sustainable development".
  • Dr Herman Daly is endorsed by Desmond Tutu "for the significant contributions to global understanding of sustainable development".
  • Pope Francis is endorsed by Desmond Tutu "for the significant contributions to global understanding of sustainable development".
  • The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation is nominated for their long standing strive for the abolishment of nuclear weapons; also endorsed by Desmond Tutu. NAPF is also nominated by Adjunct Professor Bill Wickersham of University of Missouri-Columbia. Nomination letter on
  • Emanuel AME Church, the scene of a mass shooting in June last year, was nominated by a group headed by G.K. Butterfield, Chairman of The Congressional Black Caucus.
  • Dr. Daisaku Ikeda is nominated by Nobel laureate of 1976 Betty Williams (confirmed by Williams).
  • Article 9 Association (Kyujo-no-Kai) is nominated by Japanese professor Kazuko Shijori. Nomination letter on It is presumably the same group of people that are nominated in the name of "The Japanese people who conserve war-renouncing Article 9" by no less than 168 Japanese professors (nomination confirmed).
  • Nihon Hidankyo (the Confederation of A-and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations in Japan) is nominated by Japanese professor Kazuko Shijori. Nomination letter on
  • Kathryn Bolkovac, whose story is dramatized in the film The Whistleblower, is nominated by Norwegian Professors Terje Einarsen and Aslak Syse. Nomination letter on
  • Arundhati Roy, Indian author and political activist, is nominated by Norwegian Professors Terje Einarsen and Aslak Syse. Nomination letter on
  • Edward Snowden, by now well known American whistleblower, is nominated by Norwegian Professors Terje Einarsen and Aslak Syse. Nomination letter on
  • Steinar Bryn, Norwegian front man of the Nansen Dialogue Network, is nominated by Snežana Jonica, Member of the Montenegro Parliament. Nomination letter on
  • Daniel Ellsberg, activist and former military analyst at RAND Corporation, is nominated by Norwegian MP Marit Arnstad, representing Centre Party. Nomination letter on
  • Richard Falk, professor emeritus of international law at Princeton, is nominated by Swedish Peace researcher Jan Öberg and Professor Farzeen Nasri of Ventura College, USA, according to
  • Benjamin Ferencz, Prosecutor for the United States in the Nuremberg war crimes and later Professor of Law, is nominated by Professor Robert J. Glossop of Southern Illinois University. Nomination letter on
  • Bill Pace, Executive Director of the World Federalist Movement-Institute for Global Policy and Convenor of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, is nominated by Professor Robert J. Glossop of Southern Illinois University. Nomination letter on
  • Johan Galtung, Norwegian peace activist, is nominated by Professor emeritus Richard Falk, Princeton University. Nomination letter on
  • Rebecca Johnson, nonviolence and nuclear disarmament advocate, is nominated by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Maguire. Nomination letter on
  • Malalai Joya, Afghan Member of Parliament. Nominated by Professor Berit von der Lippe of the Norwegian Business School BI, according to
  • Kathy Kelly, US peace activist and author, nominated by Professor Phillip C. Naylor of Marquette University. Nomination letter on
  • David Krieger, co-founder and President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, is nominated by Adjunct Professor Bill Wickersham of University of Missouri-Columbia. Nomination letter on
  • Evelin Lindner, advocate of "equality in dignity", is nominated by Norwegian Professor Thomas Hylland Eriksen, according to
  • Federico Mayor, fmr. Director General of UNESCO and current Director of the Foundation for a Culture of Peace, is nominated by Ingeborg Breines, co-president of the International Peace Bureau. Nomination letter on
  • Culture of Peace Initiative, is nominated by Ingeborg Breines, co-president of the International Peace Bureau. Nomination letter on
  • Jan Öberg, peace researcher and activist, is nominated by Danish Member of Parliament Christian Juhl. Nomination letter on
  • Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND), nominated by Professor and Turkish Member of Parliament, Aytuğ Atıcı, Professor Kristian Andenæs of the University of Oslo, and Dr. Marouf Bakhit of the Jordanian Senate. Atıcı's nomination letter on
  • David Swanson, Director of World Beyond War, is nominated by Professor Jeffrey Bachman of American University. Nomination letter on
  • Peter Weiss, lawer and nuclear disarmamant advocate, is nominated by Professor Alf Petter Høgberg of the University of Oslo, according to
  • International Association of Lawyers against Nuclear War (IALANA) and IALANA's German chapter, Juristen und Juristinnen gegen atomare, biologische und chemische Waffen, is nominated by Professor Alf Petter Høgberg of the University of Oslo, according to
  • Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), is nominated by Senator Peter Whish-Wilson of the Australian Parliament. Nomination letter on
  • John Perry Barlow, author of A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace and Internet governance thinker, nominated by Dan Berninger with support from multiple professors of law from US universities (confirmed by nominator). 
  • Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, FARC-Leader Timoleón Jiménez, and five representatives of different groups of victims: Leyner Palacios, Luz Marina Bernal, Constanza Turbay, Jineth Bedoya and José Antequera have been nominated this year as representatives – protagonists and victims – for the Colombian peace process, by Norwegian Member of Parliament Heikki Holmås, representing Socialist Left (see nomination letter, in Norwegian). See also Professor Benedicte Bull's blogpost on the nomination on Centre for Development and the Environment's Norlablog.
  • Christiana Figueres, Costa Rican national and current Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), is nominated according to anonymous Norwegian source.
  • Laurent Fabius, former Foreign Minister of France and President of COP21 (currently the President of the French Constitutional Court), was to be nominated by a negotiator from East Timor were the Paris climate agreement to be concluded and signed – which it indeed was. According to an anonymous Norwegian source, Fabius has been nominated, but the nominator is not revealed to us.
  • The Syrian NGO White Helmets (Syria Civil Defense), doing volunteer rescue work inside Syria, is said to be nominated by several qualified nominators though no names are mentioned in this report.
  • President Maithripala Sirisena of Sri Lanka was put forward by the Asian Tribune for the Nobel Peace Prize, but it is uncertain whether anyone heeded the call to nominate.
  • Father José Alejandro Solalinde Guerra of Mexico was announced nominated by the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico in September, assumedly by an eligible nominator. It is unclear whether this nomination was made before the February deadline or whether it constitutes a nomination for next year's prize.
  • Iraq Body Count is again nominated according to this video posted on MSN.