The Norwegian Nobel Committee has awarded the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize to human rights advocate Ales Bialiatski from Belarus, the Russian human rights organization Memorial and the Ukrainian human rights organization Center for Civil Liberties.
"[The Peace Prize laureates] demonstrate the significance of civil society for peace and democracy," said Berit Reiss-Andersen, Chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee. PRIO Director Henrik Urdal applauds the prize. "I am extremely pleased with the Nobel Committee's selection of laureates this year. This Prize will reward grassroots efforts to defend human rights and promote democracy, particularly by documenting human rights abuses and war crimes. These reflect issues that I have also been concerned to highlight in my own Shortlist of worthy candidates," says Urdal.
Ales Bialiatski is a Belarusian civil leader, who has led an almost 30-year nonviolent and nonpartisan campaign for democracy and freedom. Bialiatski founded the human rights organization "Viasna" (Spring) in 1996 in response to the controversial constitutional amendments that gave the president dictatorial powers and that triggered widespread demonstrations. The organization initially provided support for political prisoners, and has since become Belarus' leading non-governmental organisation contributing to the development of the civil society in the country through documenting human rights abuses and monitoring elections. Bialiatski has been imprisoned since July 2021 for alleged tax evasion, charges which human rights defenders consider to be politically motivated.
The human rights organization Memorial was founded in the late 1980s with the mission of preserving the truth and history of mass political repressions in the Soviet Union under Stalin. Today, it is an umbrella organization based in Russia that highlights human rights abuses, promotes democratic rule of law, and asserts the right to political freedom. Memorial was mentioned on Director Henrik Urdal's Shortlist in 2020 and onformer Director Kristian Berg Harpviken shortlist in 2016.
The Center for Civil Liberties (CCL) is a Ukrainian human rights organization established in Kyiv in 2007 with a mission to promote human rights values, democracy, and solidarity in Ukraine and the OSCE region. CCL is a leading actor in Ukraine in influencing public opinion and public policy, supporting the strengthening of civic activism, and promoting human rights. Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, CCL has been working to identify and document Russian war crimes against the Ukrainian civilian population.
Bialiatski, Memorial, and CCL have all previously received the Right Livelihood Award (in 2020, 2004, and 2022, respectively), also know as the "Alternate Nobel Prize".
"Research by PRIO and others has repeatedly shown the importance of a strong civil society for building democracy and thus for avoiding and resolving conflict, and I am glad to see this reflected in this year's Prize," says Urdal.