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Nobel Peace Prize awarded to two journalists from the Philippines and Russia

Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov were awarded the prize by the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

Dmitry Muratov and Maria Ressa
Dmitry Muratov and Maria Ressa
Image: PA

Updated Oct 8th 2021, 10:12 AM

THE NOBEL PEACE Prize has been awarded to journalists Maria Ressa of the Philippines and Dmitry Muratov of Russia for their fight for freedom of expression in their countries.

The pair were honoured “for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace,” the chairwoman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Berit Reiss-Andersen, said this morning.

The prize was awarded for the people or organisation who had “done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations”. The prestigious award is accompanied by a gold medal and 10 million Swedish kronor (£836,000).

In its 120-year history, the Nobel Peace Prize has never been awarded to representatives of the independent press.

 

Belarus opposition leaders and climate campaigners such as Greta Thunberg were also among those tipped as contenders for the prestigious prize.

They were among the 329 nominations submitted this year and deemed worthy of the honour. Predicting the winner is a giant guessing game, as no shortlist is made public and the nominees’ identities are kept secret for 50 years.

This does not, however, stop international relations experts and punters from giving it their best shot.

Among those whose names had also been generating buzz in the run-up to today’s announcement were media watchdogs Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) or the International Fact-Checking Network (to which AFP belongs), as well as anti-corruption champion Transparency International.

“Factfulness in the reporting that helps us stay informed and form a picture of current affairs as they unfold is key to the proper functioning of open public discourse and democratic institutions,” Henrik Urdal, the head of the Peace Research Institute of Oslo, said.

While the science and literature prizes awarded in Stockholm this week have so far gone only to men, the Peace Prize could honour one or even several women.

Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and her two allies, Maria Kolesnikova and Veronika Tsepkalo, were among those seen as potential laureates.

The trio opposed authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko, who was re-elected to a sixth term in what was widely seen as fraudulent elections in August 2020.

The committee had also been tipped to honour another prominent Lukashenko opponent, Ales Bialiatski.

Climate change

Activists or organisations working against climate change were also in the mix as possible successors to last year’s winner, the World Food Programme (WFP).

“The climate change crisis is visibly worse, floods and fires all over, record temperatures in many places, the Arctic ice sheet is melting and this is also the year of COP26,” said Dan Smith, director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

“So I would hope and partly expect that the prize could go to a group of climate change activists that could include Greta Thunberg,” Smith added.

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While it was earlier seen as having a real shot at the award amid the pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) has been hampered by controversy and the slow distribution of jabs in the Covax vaccine sharing scheme to poor countries.

It remains, however, a favourite among bookies.

Yet other names being bandied about this year, albeit to a lesser extent, are the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots — a favourite of the Norwegian Peace Council — leading Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny, and outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Whoever wins, it is not yet known whether the laureate will be able to travel to Oslo to pick up the award, due to the pandemic.

The prize – consisting of a diploma, a gold medal and a cheque for €980,000 euros – is traditionally awarded on 10 December, the anniversary of the 1896 death of prize creator Alfred Nobel.

The Peace Prize is the only Nobel to be awarded in the Norwegian capital.

Next week, the Nobel season wraps up on Monday with the announcement of the Economics Prize.

© AFP 2021

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