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The 2012 Peace Prize Is Unlawful

6:06 am in Uncategorized by David Swanson

FROM: Nobel laureates demand 2012: c/o Peter Kolbe, Werderstr. 36 69120 Heidelberg, Germany p.kolbe@nobelforpeace-summits.org
TO: The Nobel Foundation, P.O. Box 5232, SE-102 45 Stockholm, Sweden
CC: The Foundations Authority, Stockholm County (Länsstyrelsen)

The European Union, announced by the Norwegian Nobel Committee as the winner of the peace prize for 2012, clearly is not one of “the champions of peace” Alfred Nobel had in mind when he described the purpose in his will. We ask the Board of the Foundation to clarify that it cannot and will not pay the prize from its funds.

We would like to remind you of the decision of the Swedish Foundations Authority (Länsstyrelsen) on March 21, 2012, requesting the Board to examine the purpose Nobel described in his will, underlining that all prizes must comply, and clarifying that the Swedish Foundations Act places the supreme authority and responsibility also for the Norwegian decisions in the Board of the Nobel Foundation.

Unauthorized transformation of Nobel’s purpose

Instead of an unspecified prize for “peace,” Alfred Nobel in his 1895 testament explained in precise terms the champions of peace (“fredsförfäktare”) whose work he wished to benefit. Nobel intended to support the political work for a demilitarized global peace order (a “folkens förbrödrande”), based on co-operation, law and disarmament.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has redefined and reshaped the prize in a way that is not in accordance with the law. The choice of the EU for the 2012 prize fails on at least two counts:

  1. the EU is not seeking to realize Nobel’s demilitarized global peace order,
  2. the EU and member states condone security based on military force and waging wars rather than insisting on the need for an alternative approach.

The purpose of the peace prize is clarified by recent research. In 2008 Fredrik S. Heffermehl, a Norwegian lawyer and author and a former IPB Vice President, published the first known legal study of the prize and its purpose. In 2010 he published The Nobel Peace Prize. What Nobel Really Wanted (Praeger, 2010) with later updates in Chinese, Finnish, Swedish (Leopard, 2011).

The case for declaring the 2012 prize unlawful further rests on facts widely known and mentioned in comments following the announcement and we implore the Foundation to act in defense of the Nobel Peace Prize and its creator Alfred Nobel.

Loyal promotion of Nobel ‘s global peace order is the committee’s main obligation. Even accepting some flexibility with technical rules, the 2012 prize for the EU is particularly problematic in relation to Nobel language on “the last expired year” and that the winner should be a “person.”

We would appreciate an urgent clarification from the Foundation.

Sincerely,

Mairead Maguire, Nobel laureate, Northern Ireland

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel laureate, South Africa

Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Nobel laureate, Argentina

Co-signed by the following in their personal capacities (organizational affiliation only for identification and relevance)

Bruce Kent, former president of the International Peace Bureau, IPB (UK)

Robert Hinde, professor, Movement for the Abolition of War (UK)

Peter Kolbe, Board Member, UNA Branch of Baden Württemberg (Germany)

David Swanson, author, warisacrime.org (USA)

Tomas Magnusson, Co-president, International Peace Bureau (Sweden)

Ståle Eskeland, professor of law, University of Oslo, Norway

Fredrik S. Heffermehl, lawyer and author (The Nobel Peace Prize), Norway

Why Europe Did Not Deserve a Nobel Peace Prize

4:13 am in Uncategorized by David Swanson

Enlèvement d'Europe; painted by French artist Nöel-Nicolas Coypel in 1726-1727.

Yes, indeed, it is a little-acknowledged feat of miraculous life-saving power that Europe has not gone to war with itself — other than that whole Yugoslavia thing — since World War II. It’s as clear a demonstration as anything that people can choose to stop fighting. It’s a testament to the pre-war peace efforts that criminalized war, the post-war prosecutions of the brand new crime of making war, the reconstruction of the Marshall Plan, and … and something else a little less noble, and much less Nobel-worthy.

Alfred Nobel’s will, written in 1895, left funding for a prize to be awarded to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.” Fredrik Heffermehl has been leading a valuable effort to compel the Nobel committee to abide by the will. Now they’ve outdone themselves in their movement in the other direction.

Europe is not a person. It has not during the past year — which is the requirement — or even during the past several decades done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations. Ask Libya. Ask Syria. Check with Afghanistan. See what Iraq thinks. Far from doing the best work to abolish or reduce standing armies, Europe has joined with the United States in developing an armed global force aggressively imposing its will on the world.

There were good nominees and potential nominees available, even great ones.

Now the Nobelites have almost guaranteed themselves a second-ever pro-war peace-prize acceptance speech. If you don’t recall who gave the first one, I’ll tell you after the U.S. election when you might be better able to hear me.

What a disgrace that the Nobel peace prize needs alternative awards that don’t go to warmongers. What a further shame that even those don’t always go to people who measure up to Nobel’s will.

Was Nobel asking so much really when he asked that a prize go to whoever did the best work toward abolishing war?

The West is so in love with itself that many will imagine this award a success. Surely Europe not going to war with itself is more important that Europe going to war with the rest of the world! Imagine how many white people might have died if Europe had kept its warmaking to itself. By directing the threat of war outward and engaging in humanitarian wars and philanthropic wars, Europe has taken us beyond naive war abolition and into an era of powerful possibilities. Oh, and some dark people died. But we’re looking at the Big Picture.

Does this not frighten anyone?

[Editor's Note: David Dayen has more.]