Nobel Peace Prize 2017: PRIO Director's Speculations

PRIO Director Henrik Urdal will publish an updated shortlist before the official announcement of this year's winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Former Director Kristian Berg Harpviken's final shortlist was published earlier this year.

Based on independent assessments, PRIO Directors have offered their personal shortlists for the Nobel Peace Prize each year since 2002. The upcoming speculations will be Henrik Urdal's first speculations as PRIO Director. Further down on this page, you can view former Director Kristian Berg Harpviken's final speculations. While he may be a relevant commentator on the issue, the PRIO Director's 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. Harpviken and PRIO have no 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.

The laureate is normally announced on the Friday of the first full week of October, which would mean the sixth this year.

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 his Adviser Halvor Berggrav directly.


Harpviken's 2017 Nobel Peace Prize Shortlist

  1. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Susan N. Herman
  2. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)
  3. Maithripala Sirisena, President of Sri Lanka
  4. The White Helmets (Syrian Civil Defense) and Raed al Saleh
  5. Jeanne Nacatche Banyere, Jeannette Kahindo Bindu and Dr. Denis Mukwege


The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Susan N. Herman

The ACLU and its President, Law Professor Susan N. Herman, have placed themselves at the forefront in fighting, through legal means, to hold the new US President and his administration accountable. In a letter posted in the New York Times on 11 November 2016, only three days after the election, ACLU picked up on a number of Donald Trump’s campaign promises, which it characterized as not only ‘un-American and wrong-headed’ but also ‘unlawful and unconstitutional’. While the role of legal instruments within the US system may be particular, the larger principle concerns accountability and transparency for political leaders as well the independence of legal institutions. Many of the issues at stake in present day USA – such as immigration restrictions based on group identity, or restrictions on the freedom of expression – are also pressing concerns in many other parts of the world. The ACLU has a long and distinct history in the US context, including taking part in the civil rights struggles of the 1960s, taking a principled stance against what it has seen as unlawful or undesirable policies of the post-2001 War on Terror, and running campaigns against the death penalty and for LGBT rights. More recently, it also co-sponsored the 21 January Women’s March on Washington. While a Peace Prize to the ACLU would certainly be understood as a criticism of President Trump, it would more importantly be a celebration of long-standing, tenacious legal craftsmanship and the fight for civil rights, in the USA primarily, but also as part of a global struggle.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)

The success of ECOWAS – combining diplomatic efforts with the prospective use of armed force – in securing a political transition in Gambia has been widely hailed as a victory for African democracy. After the end of the Cold War, there has been ever more emphasis on regional organizations in resolving conflict and keeping peace. Particularly in peacekeeping, ECOWAS has long experience, starting with its operation to restore stability in Liberia, ECOMOG, from 1990 to 1998. The organization has been at the forefront of the increasingly assertive use of force to restore peace, often referred to as peace enforcement. The outright threat of a military intervention in the 2017 Gambia transition fits that trend. Concerns have been raised as to whether Gambia also represents a different trend, namely impunity for past misdeeds, a concern countered by the UN. The Gambian situation was a particular one, with former President Yahya Jammeh refusing to leave office after having lost to Adama Barrow in the elections. ECOWAS action was backed by a UN Security Council resolution. After the success, calls are heard for similar action to be taken by the African Union to safeguard transitions elsewhere on the continent, such as in Burundi, South Sudan or Zimbabwe.

Maithripala Sirisena

President of Sri Lanka Maithripala Sirisena has initiated a comprehensive set of reconciliatory initiatives to heal the wounds of the civil war which culminated in a military onslaught by the state military on the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) in 2009. Sirisena’s insistence on inclusive reconciliation therefore stands out as an example to be followed, especially in a situation where support for the International Criminal Court (ICC) and other transitional justice mechanisms is deteriorating. In early 2017, the Sri Lankan Consultation Task Force on Reconciliation Mechanisms released its final report. This goes hand in hand with a range of other efforts, including a consultative process on constitutional reform. Resistance from the political opposition is real, and so are the prospects for failure. The President himself is susceptible to criticism, having held posts with the former government that overran the LTTE. A Nobel Peace Prize to President Sirisena would fit a tradition of honouring pragmatic leaders who show political courage, and it would draw attention to reconciliation as a key to sustainable peace.

The White Helmets and Raed al Saleh

The Syrian Civil Defense – better known as the ‘White Helmets’ – and its leader Raed al Saleh could be an ideal Nobel candidate for their work saving lives, ameliorating human suffering, and maintaining a ray of hope in the Syrian civil war, now in its sixth year. 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 and even documented in a Netflix movie in 2016. This has inspired a campaign for the Nobel Prize but also accusations of being 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.

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. Meanwhile, gynaecologist Denis Mukwege 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 2017 Nobel Peace Prize

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 fulfills 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 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 objects of a proposal for a Nobel Peace Prize for sustainable development, but it is not clear if any qualified nominators have actually done so. Pope Francis appear 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).

The following nominations are obtained from the Nobel Peace Prize Watch website:

Do you have more confirmed nominations to add to the list? Let us know!