Nobel Peace Prize 2022: Who are the top contenders this year?

Click to play video: 'Nobel Peace Prize awarded to two journalists for their fight for press freedom'
Nobel Peace Prize awarded to two journalists for their fight for press freedom
WATCH: Nobel Peace Prize awarded to two journalists for their fight for press freedom – Oct 8, 2021

The 2022 Nobel Peace Prize winner is set to be announced Friday in Oslo, Norway.

At total of 343 nominees – 251 individuals and 92 organizations – are vying for the prize this year, according to the Nobel Institute. But the full list is not yet public and will only be released after 50 years.

The Nobel Peace Prize should go to the person “who has done the most or best to advance fellowship among nations, the abolition or reduction of standing armies, and the establishment and promotion of peace congresses,” according to the will of Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, who founded the awards.

“I think it’s widely accepted that the Nobel Peace Prize is the most prestigious award in the world concerning peace efforts,” said Cesar Jaramillo, executive director of Project Ploughshares, a Canadian peace research institute.

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Because of its importance, the award constitutes a “huge boost” for the cause that the recipient is working on or fighting for, he said.

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Nobel Prize in physics awarded to 3 scientists for work on quantum science

Last year, the prize was shared by Filipino-American journalist Maria Ressa and Russian journalist Dmitry Andreyevich Muratov “for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression.”

This year’s award will be announced against the backdrop of Russia’s war on Ukraine, that has now entered its eighth month.

It also comes in the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In many ways, the peace prize is only becoming more important and more relevant when we’re (going) through times like the ones that we are experiencing now,” said Henrik Urdal, director of the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO).

Here are some of the likely contenders for this year’s award.

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Greta Thunberg

Climate activist Greta Thunberg speaking on the main stage in George Square as part of the Fridays for Future Scotland march during the Cop26 summit in Glasgow. Picture date: Friday Nov. 5, 2021. Press Association

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg has gained international recognition for challenging world leaders to take immediate action against climate change.

Her climate fight began in 2018 when as a 15-year-old she started protesting alone outside the Swedish parliament every Friday.

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That sparked a global youth movement of demonstrations under the banner “Fridays for Future.”

This is not the first time that the teenager has been considered among the favourites by bookkeeper’s, said Jaramillo, lauding the teenager for bringing the climate agenda to the fore of international consciousness.

However, there are questions over the rationale of giving a peace award for climate action.

“We know from research that there is no scientific agreement on climate change being an important driver of armed conflict,” said Urdal.

Alexei Navalny

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny appears on a screen set up at a court room of the Moscow City Court via a video link from his prison colony provided by the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service during an appeal hearing against his nine-year prison sentence. Tuesday, May 24, 2022. AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is President Vladimir Putin’s most vocal critic.

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Navalny, an anti-corruption crusader, has been jailed in Russia since January 2021 on charges widely seen as politically motivated.

Navalny’s opposition movement had been labeled “extremist” and was shut down, although his supporters continue to express their political stance on social media.

Navalny has also voiced his opposition to Moscow’s military intervention in Ukraine.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

Belarus’s exiled opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya participates in a panel discussion at the Warsaw Security Forum in Warsaw, Poland, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022. AP Photo/Michal Dyjuk

Belarus‘s exiled opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya has reportedly been nominated for the prize, according to a Reuters survey of Norwegian lawmakers who have disclosed their nominees.

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Tsikhanouskaya fled to Lithuania after Russian ally Alexander Lukashenko claimed victory in disputed August 2020 elections that were viewed in the West as fraudulent, and which many thought she won.

Urdal believes Tsikhanouskaya, along with Navalny, should be given the award jointly in support of pro-democracy causes in their respective countries and also as a nod to those within Russia and Belarus who are opposing the Ukraine war.

“They’ve both been important for advancing the cause of democratic reform in their own countries, but they’ve also been very vocal critics of the Russian invasion into Ukraine, which Belarus has also been taking part in,” he told Global News.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy

In this photo released by Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy leads a meeting of the National Security and Defense Council in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy could be a surprise winner this year, according to some analysts.

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Since Russia launched its offensive against Ukraine on Feb. 24, Zelenskyy has been rallying support for his country and has hosted several world leaders on Ukrainian soil in recent months.

Zelenskyy has remained in the capital of Kyiv throughout the invasion, despite increasing bombardments and the growing threat of Russian forces breaching the capital.

Ukrainian officials have confirmed at least one assassination attempt on the president has been thwarted so far, and there have been numerous reports of other failed attacks on Zelenskyy’s life.

The former comedian and actor turned wartime leader has been providing regular video updates posted to social media about the situation on the ground.

“There’s a lot of goodwill that President Zelenskyy has garnered in the West because of his defense of his people and his country,” said Jaramillo, which makes him one of the top contenders in many people’s eyes.

Click to play video: 'Ukraine leads successful counteroffensive as Russia loses ground'
Ukraine leads successful counteroffensive as Russia loses ground

The Norwegian Nobel Committee might also be inclined to make a political statement by voting in his favour, he said.

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However, there are also questions about the contradictory nature of giving a peace prize to a president currently at war.

Urdal said he very much doubts that the Zelenskyy would win given that that the deadline of the nominations was Jan. 31 – almost a month before the Ukraine invasion started. But, five members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee could also nominate individuals and organizations up until their first meeting, which was at the end of February.

“I think the committee would probably be careful about awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to the head of state which is involved in armed conflict,” said Urdal.

The World Health Organization (WHO)

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization, talks to the media in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, Dec. 20, 2021. SDN

The World Health Organization (WHO) has been front and centre in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

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From declaring the virus a global crisis, overseeing and collaborating vaccine research and development, to providing guidance on prevention measures, the United Nations health body has spearheaded the global response.

However, this has not come without criticism and controversy, especially about the origins of the virus, the timeliness of announcements, backtracking on information and the efficiency of the COVAX vaccine sharing facility, experts say.

Pope Francis

Pope Francis speaks to journalists aboard the papal flight back to Italy from Canada on Saturday, July 30, 2022. Guglielmo Mangiapane/ Pool via AP

Pope Francis has repeatedly denounced the Ukraine war, urging Putin to “stop this spiral of violence and death” in his latest appeal.

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No pope has ever won the Nobel Peace Prize since the award was first handed out in 1901.

This year, Pope Francis visited Canada and issued a long-awaited historic apology to Indigenous people on Canadian soil for the Church’s role in residential schools.

Click to play video: 'Pope begs Putin to end ‘spiral of violence and death,’ cites nuclear threat'
Pope begs Putin to end ‘spiral of violence and death,’ cites nuclear threat

What about Canada?

Since 1901, only one Canadian individual has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

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In 1957, the honour went to Lester Pearson “for his crucial contribution to the deployment of a United Nations Emergency Force in the wake of the Suez Crisis.”

Pearson, who went on to become Canada’s 14th prime minister, was a foreign minister at the time.

In 1995, Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, which started in Nova Scotia, jointly shared the award with physicist Joseph Rotblat.

There was also some Canadian representation in 2017 when Setsuko Thurlow, a Canadian-Japanese survivor of the Hiroshima nuclear disaster accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).

The Nobel Peace Prize winner will be announced at 11 a.m. Oslo time (5 am ET) on Friday.

The award ceremony at the Oslo City Hall, however, is later in the year on Dec. 10, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death.

— with files from Reuters and the Associated Press

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