South Asia and Beyond

Norwegian MP Recommends UNRWA For Nobel Prize

Controversial UN Agency In Line For Nobel?
 Norwegian MP Recommends UNRWA For Nobel Prize

Strange but true: a member of Norway’s parliament has recommended the UN Relief & Works Agency for the Nobel Peace Prize! Labour Party MP Asmund Aukrust told a local newspaper that the agency deserved this “for its long-term work to provide vital support to Palestine and the region in general.”

Aukrust incidentally is the vice chairman of the Norwegian parliament’s foreign affairs committee. His proposal comes even after some employees of the agency have been suspended and are under investigation for possible complicity in the Hamas attack on Israel last October.

The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded by the Norwegian Nobel Committee which comprises five members appointed by Norway’s parliament. The committee’s composition matches the relative strength of various political parties in the parliament. It’s not clear if the MP’s recommendation reflects a larger sentiment in Parliament.

The Nobel Committee receives hundreds of nominations each year and just about anybody can submit a nomination. The deadline is generally Jan 31, but although that date is gone, it’s not clear if Aukrust has already made a formal recommendation for the UN agency. The identities of the candidates is kept confidential for 50 years although those who made the recommendation are free to disclose their preference.

If the UN agency in question has been nominated, it will be among a long line of controversial nominations. Former US President Barack Obama, for instance, won the Nobel Peace Prize apparently on the strength of being the first African American to rise to the highest political office.

The late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 (which he shared with Israel’s Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin). Arafat although a hero to his people and the larger Arab world, is seen as a terrorist in many other parts of the world.

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger got the Nobel Prize in 1973 for brokering peace in Vietnam, but he is vilified for ordering a bombing raid on Hanoi while negotiating the ceasefire.

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