Isha Chincholkar, Shaardhool Shreenath & Sarabjot Singh
US President Donald Trump has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize this year, as he seeks to return to the White House in the presidential elections. This isn’t the first time an US president has been nominated for the prize — four former presidents who have been nominated include President William Howard Taft, President Herbert Hoover, and President Franklin Roosevelt.
The process of nomination raises several questions. Who can submit a nomination? Politicians serving at the national level and heads of states can nominate. Eminent academics, university professors, scientists, and previous winners can also submit nominations. Far-right Norwegian politician Christian Tybring-Gjedde nominated Trump. There are 318 nominations for this year’s peace prize — the winner will be announced on October 9.
The Nobel Prize is given to people " who have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind" . Recent nominations have had a significant political influence.
In 2009, Barack Obama won the award just nine months into his presidential tenure. He won it “for his extraordinary efforts in strengthening international diplomacy and cooperation between people.” Brian Becker, a Democratic member of the Connecticut House of Representatives, remarked, “This is the Nobel committee giving Obama the ‘you are not George W. Bush’ award.” Obama then went on to engage in numerous conflicts with many countries in West Asia and Afghanistan. “Unfortunately, Obama is building on Bush’s policies and is extending the war with Afghanistan rather than ending it,” added Becker.
Other controversial candidates who’ve received the Nobel Peace Prize include Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. A member of the Nobel committee, Kare Kristiansen, resigned over Arafat’s nomination. He accused Arafat of being "tainted with violence, terrorism and bloodshed." Even Adolf Hitler was nominated once for the Nobel Peace Prize.
The Nobel committee has been accused of being Eurocentric and patriarchal. Mahatma Gandhi, probably the most recognizable figure in peace studies, was nominated 12 times for the prize, but never won. Few women, too, have won the Nobel Prize. For instance, Jocelyn Bell, an Irish physicist is known to have discovered pulsar stars, but she never won the Nobel Prize. Several years later, her advisor, Antony Hewish, was given the award for “his decisive role in the discovery of pulsars.”
Nobel Prizes are one among the most precious awards anyone can get. However, the very evident flaws in the process of nomination or the underlying biases in choosing the winners can really be damaging to its credibility.