Nobel Peace Prize 2022: PRIO Director's Shortlist
The Nobel Peace Prize is arguably the most prestigious prize in the world. It is awarded annually by the Norwegian Nobel Committee to persons or organizations for their efforts and actions for the promotion of peace. Although the committee itself is independent, the prize unavoidably has a political impact and as such is often met with controversy, both regarding the individual laureates and the committee’s interpretation of Alfred Nobel’s will.
Based on their professional assessments, PRIO Directors have made it a tradition to offer their personal shortlists for the Peace Prize. Current director Henrik Urdal presents here his fifth list since taking up the position of director in 2017.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee bases its decision on valid nominations received by the January 31 deadline. Anyone can be nominated (and history has indeed presented us with a few rather dubious nominees, including Hitler), but the right to nominate is reserved for 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. Urdal abstains from using his right to nominate given his active role in commenting on the prize. He has no association with the Nobel Institute or the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
The laureate will be announced in October.
Henrik Urdal's 2022 Nobel Peace Prize Shortlist
- Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya
- Harsh Mander & Karwan-e-Mohabbat
- HRDAG & CANVAS
- Ilham Tohti, Agnes Chow & Nathan Law
- Nataša Kandić & the Humanitarian Law Center
Non-violent pro-democracy mass mobilizations and protest movements can play an important role in overturning despotic regimes. In the summer of 2020, protesters poured onto the streets of Minsk to protest the announcement of allegedly rigged election results that propelled Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to a sixth five-year term in office. The protests were met with brutal repression, including reports of wide-spread torture of detained protesters. This cycle of protest and harsh crackdowns continued into 2021.
In the midst of this clash, opposition politician Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya has played a leading role in non-violently challenging Lukashenko and the Belarusian authorities, calling both for fair elections and an end to violence against those demonstrating against the abuses of the current regime. Launching her presidential candidacy after her husband, activist Sergei Tikhanovsky, was arrested just days after declaring his own intention to run, Tsikhanouskaya became the candidate of a united opposition, and has subsequently spearheaded the Coordination Council, an initiative aimed at securing a democratic and peaceful transition of power in Belarus. Both for her concrete role in campaigning for democracy in Belarus and as a figurehead of the pro-democracy movement in Belarus, Tsikhanouskaya would be a worthy recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Another worthy candidate for the prize in the domain of pro-democracy activism is Alexei Navalny, an anti-corruption activist and opposition leader who has played a central role in the nonviolent struggle for democracy in Russia.
Harsh Mander & Karwan-e-Mohabbat
Religious extremism helps justify discrimination and violence, and stokes tensions between groups that can result in armed conflict. Making a significant contribution to fighting religious extremism and promoting interreligious dialogue is therefore a compelling rationale for being awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. A worthy recipient of such a prize is Harsh Mander, along with the campaign he launched in 2017, Karwan-e-Mohabbat ("Caravan of Love").
Embodied by the figure of Mahatma Gandhi, India has a proud tradition of religious tolerance and pluralism. 75 years after India gained its independence, this tradition is under strain. Under Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist administration, the situation for Muslims in India has become increasingly difficult and the country has seen numerous incidents of religiously motivated violence. Responding to this violence, author, activist and director of the Center for Equity Studies in New Delhi, Harsh Mander, launched Karwan-e-Mohabbat, a campaign supporting and showing solidarity with the victims of hate crimes. Mander is an important voice for religious tolerance and dialogue, and his campaign an important rallying point for those who oppose interreligious conflict and violence.
Other worthy candidates for a prize focused on combating religious extremism and intolerance in India are Mohammed Zubair and Pratik Sinha, the co-founders of Alt News, a fact-checking site making significant contributions to debunking misinformation aimed at vilifying Muslims in India.
HRDAG & CANVAS
As a peace researcher, I am convinced of the value research and knowledge can have for promoting peace. A Nobel Peace Prize for organizations working to mobilize research and education in the service of preventing violence and conflict would highlight the importance of truth-seeking and factfulness in the face of the propagation of divisive disinformation and harmful myths. Two such organizations that would be worthy recipients of a Nobel Peace Prize are the Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG) and the Center for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS).
Based in San Francisco, HRDAG systematically documents and analyses data on human rights abuses. Founded by Patrick Ball, the organization aims to promote accountability for human rights violations through rigorous, non-partisan science.
Based in Belgrade and co-founded by Srđa Popović and Slobodan Đinović, CANVAS does invaluable work educating activists around the world in nonviolent forms of protest and resistance. In this way, it equips groups that might otherwise resort to violence with the tools to pursue a nonviolent path in their struggles for democracy and against oppressive regimes.
Ilham Tohti, Agnes Chow & Nathan Law
As China continues to assert itself as a rising superpower in an emerging multipolar world, it continues to be important to highlight pro-democracy efforts and human rights breaches in China and its claimed territories.
We continue to see reports of human rights abuses perpetrated against Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region, including internment camps, forced sterilization, political indoctrination, and disappearances. Although foreign press has made a real contribution in bringing the issue to light, activists within China have also been making an invaluable effort to raise awareness and campaign for an end to the repression of the Uyghur population. One such activist is scholar Ilham Tohti, who was jailed for life in 2014 on charges of promoting separatism. Before his arrest, he worked to spread knowledge for and about Uyghurs, and to foster dialogue. While Tohti has not been heard from directly for several years, his work and legacy is still a powerful symbol and motivator for Uyghurs and those who advocate for them. A Nobel Peace Prize for a Chinese activist campaigning against the repression of the Uyghurs in China would help to further highlight the ongoing plight of this oppressed ethnic minority and send a signal to the Chinese authorities that the international community is watching.
Awarding a Peace Prize to pro-democracy advocates in Hong Kong would also be an apt gesture given the rapid erosion of the region's semi-autonomous status. Following the adoption of the Hong Kong national security law in 2020, 2021 saw the mass arrest of opposition lawmakers and activists, further erosion of Hong Kong's multi-party legislature, and attacks on what little remains of independent media. Worthy candidates would be Agnes Chow Ting and Nathan Law Kwun-chung, both prominent members of the former pro-democracy organization Demosistō and its forerunner Scholarism, and leading figures in the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong. Law has been in exile in the UK since the enactment of the national security law in 2020, while Chow has faced imprisonment for her political activity. A Peace Prize for Chow and Law would be a much needed pushback against the Chinese authorities' efforts to quell the struggle for democracy in Hong Kong.
Nataša Kandić & the Humanitarian Law Center
More than 20 years after the end of the last war associated with the breakup of Yugoslavia, reconciliation continues to evade the people and societies of the Western Balkans. Not only is this hindering progress in the region, but it is also threatening peace and stability as illustrated by the increasing hostilities and genocide denial of the Bosnian Serb leadership in Republika Srpska. A Nobel Peace Prize to a candidate who advocates the prevention of new violence, justice for war victims and survivors, and the establishment of truth about the wars, would be a timely prize signaling the importance of such work for achieving sustainable peace in what is considered a "post-conflict" region.
A worthy candidate for such a prize would be human rights activist Nataša Kandić and the Belgrade based Humanitarian Law Center (Fond za humanitarno pravo), founded by Kandić in 1992. Kandić and the Humanitarian Law Center have documented human rights violations associated with the wars in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. Their work has informed cases at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). 30 years on, Kandić and the Humanitarian Law Center continue to spearhead regional advocacy for missing persons and their families, seek justice for war victims and survivors, expose those who have evaded justice, establish facts about the wars, and tackle the ultranationalism and ethnic tensions that still permeate the region. Their work is crucial in a time when peace and stability in the Western Balkans is increasingly challenged by unresolved issues and harmful trends.
Other human rights defenders who would be worthy candidates, possibly co-laureates, include Rouba Mhaissen (Head of the Sawa for Development and Aid in Lebanon working for the human rights of refugees), Shaharzad Akbar (former chair of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission), Mariam al-Mahdi (former Foreign Minister of Sudan and democracy activist), and the Civil Disobedience Movement in Myanmar.For media inquiries and interview requests, please contact:
David J. Allen
Adviser to the Director
Work phone: +47 22 54 77 60
About the Shortlist
Each year, PRIO’s Director presents his own shortlist for the Nobel Peace Prize. The Director offers his opinion on the most worthy potential laureates, based on his independent assessment. The PRIO Director’s view on the most worthy potential Nobel Peace Prize laureates is widely covered by international media, and it has been offered since 2002.
While PRIO’s Director is undoubtedly a relevant commentator on the issue, his shortlist neither confirms nor formally endorses any candidate, and is not in any way 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.
The Nobel Committeeselects each year's laureate from a list of valid nominations received by 1st February that year. Anyone can be nominated, but only individuals holding certain positions, as laid out in the statutes of the Nobel Foundation, are eligible to nominate candidates. As the director of a peace research institute, the Director of PRIO holds one such position, and is therefore eligible to nominate candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize. However, it is an accepted convention at PRIO that the Director refrain from making nominations given his active role as a commentator on the Peace Prize.
The PRIO Director’s shortlist generates considerable international interest. The debate about what peace is, and how our understandings of what contributes to peace changes over time, is at the core of the institute’s mission (see former Director Kristian Berg Harpviken's ‘Why Speculate on the Nobel Peace Prize’ blog post). This also includes opinions on possible laureates, and assessment of the criteria for the Nobel Peace Prize and the committee’s work on the interpretation of those (for more on the latter, you may also have a look at nobelwill.org). In the PRIO Director’s opinion, this can only serve to further strengthen the world’s most prestigious prize.