nobel peace prize

Pakistani teenager and Indian children’s rights activist beat Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, the Pope and Vladimir Putin to the prestigious prize 

January 30, 2014

If you have a paper thin skin (as I do) and are paid to comment on the news (this, for some mysterious reason, also applies to me), it’s advisable to fully disengage from writing about the Edward Snowden saga. After the initial leaks, I offered a cautious piece, urging against the instant beatification of the former NSA contractor.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee announced its selection Friday morning and it wasn't Malala. (The prize went to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.) To find out how that news was received among school girls, I stopped by the Centre of Science and Technology (COSAT) — a public high school near Cape Town, South Africa, that I have been profiling this year.

There was a fair bit of huffing when the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded President Barack Obama the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, less than eight months after Obama had moved into the Oval Office. Too soon, declared critics and skeptics, who had a point. The president had not earned the award through any particular action.

Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai has become a formidable force for rights in the year since the Taliban shot her, but an equally formidable public relations operation has helped her spread her message. The 16-year-old campaigner for girls' education has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, addressed the UN, published an autobiography and been invited to tea with Queen Elizabeth II, achieving a level of fame more like that of a movie star.

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman says that something is “seriously wrong” if he isn’t a top contender for the Nobel Peace Prize this year. The five-time NBA champion became the first American to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un earlier this year when he visited the country as part of a Vice trip to film a documentary. While there he struck up quite a friendship with the North Korean leader and urged U.S. President Barack Obama to call Kim upon returning home.

The award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the EU did not go unnoticed in Washington, serving as a springboard for several debates on the EU and US’ role in promoting peace and security in the world. "We will need to be more capable of adding to soft power bits of hard power," said EU Ambassador to the US Joao Vale de Almeida, on 7 December, sharing a platform at the Brookings Institution.

The Nobel committee's decision ignores EU-member's actions beyond Europe and the many more worthy candidates across the world... Look to some EU-member countries' contribution to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Africa, and the story may be a little different.