Posted by Roger Mallett Posted on 18 February 2024

The Covid Resistance Deserves the Nobel Peace Prize

Alfred Nobel’s will (excerpt) (Paris, 27 November 1895) stipulates that the peace prize is 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.

The nomination processes start in September each year and nominations must be submitted before 1 February of the year in which the prize is awarded. The Norwegian Nobel Committee is responsible for selecting the Nobel Peace Prize laureates. Among those eligible to submit nominations, I have done so several times in the past. From February to October, the committee scrutinises the list of candidates and progressively whittles it down, culminating in the announcement of the prize in early October and the award ceremony in Oslo in early December.

Inexplicably, none of my nominees won the prize. Rumour mills speculated that some came pretty close, but in the end no cigar. Disheartened, I discontinued my submissions. Last year I did consider nominating some of the world’s leading organisations and individuals engaged in fighting the Covid lockdowns, mask, and vaccine mandates over 2020–23.

Because of my 100 percent perfect track record of failure, I decided this could be the kiss of death and in the end abandoned the idea. Nonetheless, I hope some of them have been nominated by others. Let me explain why, in the context of the history of this prize, they would be deserving candidates – but unlikely winners.

The Peace Prize Has Often Departed from Nobel’s Explicit Criteria

The strict criteria are sometimes put forward as the explanation for why Mahatma Gandhi was not awarded the prize. Be that as it may, after the Second World War, the Norwegian committee’s definition of peace grew increasingly more expansive and flexible, embracing fields as diverse as environmental activism, indigenous rights, food security, and human rights. It gradually acquired the overtones of a political act or message with a messianic element of hope to nudge the world towards striving for the broader conception of peace favoured by the committee.

In relation to the founder’s will, this produced some strange choices. There have been many eyebrow-raising laureates: those who waged war, others tainted with terrorism, and still others whose contributions to peace were tenuous (planting millions of trees), laudable though their campaigns were in their own right.

The 1973 joint recipients were North Vietnam’s Le Duc Tho and US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger for ending the Vietnam War. In 1994 Yasser Arafat got the prize (jointly with Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres) for efforts ‘to create peace in the Middle East.’ Yes, truly.

The 1970 laureate was Norman Borlaug for his role in the green revolution. In 2007 Al Gore and the IPCC were selected for their role in spreading awareness about ‘man-made climate change’ (yes, the committee used this gendered language).

It is the many awards in relation to human rights, freedoms, and democracy promotion that are most relevant to why the committee should give careful consideration to the heroes of the Covid resistance.

Last year’s Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Nargis Mohammadi of Iran ‘for her fight against the oppression of women in Iran and her fight to promote human rights and freedom for all.’ The three 2022 laureates from Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine were recognised for their promotion of ‘the right to criticise power and protect the fundamental rights of citizens. They have made an outstanding effort to document war crimes, human right abuses and the abuse of power.’ In 2021, the joint winners from the Philippines and Russia were lauded ‘for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression.’

Read More – The Covid Resistance Deserves the Nobel Peace Prize

From our advertisers