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Who are the possible contenders for the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize?

The 2022 Nobel Peace Prize will be announced on Friday night.

It's a prize awarded to individuals or organisations who have helped to "advance fellowship among nations, the abolition or reduction of standing armies, and the establishment and promotion of peace congresses", according to Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, who founded the awards.

The secretive Nobel committees never hint who will win the prize, so it's anyone's guess who might be awarded the $1.4 million honour.

There are 343 nominees this year, although the full list will be kept locked away in a vault for 50 years.

This year, there is expected to be some focus on the conflict in Ukraine.

Many are putting their bets on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to win this year, although other favourites include the Kyiv Independent newspaper and the United Nations' refugee agency (UNHCR).

"It could be a prize either for actors internally in Ukraine — fact-finding, humanitarian assistance," Henrik Urdal, the director of the Peace Research Institute Oslo, said.

However, there are other figures around the world working towards making the world a peaceful place that maybe you haven't heard about. 

Tap on the tiles to find out more about some of the possible contenders. 

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

Belarussian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya has been a dissenting voice against the country's authoritarian president Alexander Lukashenko.

Professor Urdal said Ms Tsikhanouskaya had become a figurehead of Belarus's pro-democracy movement by calling for fair elections and for an end to violence being wrought on protesters against the regime.

"Launching her presidential candidacy after her husband, activist Sergei Tikhanovsky, was arrested just days after declaring his own intention to run, Tsikhanouskaya became the candidate of a united opposition, and has subsequently spearheaded the Coordination Council, an initiative aimed at securing a democratic and peaceful transition of power in Belarus," Professor Urdal said.

Ilham Tohti

Ilham Tohti is an activist scholar who was jailed for life in 2014 after being convicted of fanning ethnic hatred, advocating violence and instigating terror through his classroom teaching on Uyghur issues.

Mr Tohti has worked to spread awareness for the plight of Uyghurs in China's Xinjiang region, who are reportedly subjected to internment camps, forced sterilisation, political indoctrination and disappearances.

More than 1 million Uyghurs have been detained in camps since 2017 and criticism has grown over China’s internment of them and other Muslims.

Professor Urdal said Mr Tohti was a contender for his work spreading awareness of the issue within China.

"While Tohti has not been heard from directly for several years, his work and legacy is still a powerful symbol and motivator for Uyghurs and those who advocate for them," Professor Urdal said.

"A Nobel Peace Prize for a Chinese activist campaigning against the repression of the Uyghurs in China would help to further highlight the ongoing plight of this oppressed ethnic minority and send a signal to the Chinese authorities that the international community is watching."

Alexei Navalny

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is one of the most prominent critics of president Vladimir Putin.

Mr Navalny is being held in a maximum-security prison in Russia after being found guilty of large-scale fraud and sentenced to nine years' jail in March, 2022.

He was already serving a two-and-a-half-year sentence at a prison camp around 100 kilometres east of Moscow for parole violations related to charges that he says were fabricated against him.

Mr Navalny has dismissed the criminal case brought against him as politically motivated.

He is the founder of an anti-corruption foundation, a non-profit political organisation known in Russia as the FBK, that works to uncover the secrets of Mr Putin and Russia's powerful oligarchs.

Inside 'Putin's Palace': Alexei Navalny's investigations unit's video alleges improper use of money.(Supplied)

Maria Kolesnikova

Maria Kolesnikova was a professional flute player with no political experience before she emerged as a key opposition activist in Belarus.

Ms Kolesnikova has appeared at protests against the country's authoritarian president Alexander Lukashenko after he was kept in power by a 2020 election that his critics say was rigged.

Mr Lukashenko has previously admitted that he runs an authoritarian state, but claims there are no political prisoners in his country.

The US government estimates there are more than 1,300 political prisoners in Belarus.

"The Lukashenko regime continues to employ brutal tactics to suppress dissent," US ambassador Michael Carpenter said. 

"There are credible reports that beatings and forms of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment are routine and that they have been used to extract forced testimonies and for 'confession' videos."

Harsh Mander

Harsh Mander is an author, teacher, researcher and human rights activist who created the 2017 campaign Karwan-e-Mohabbat (Caravan of Love) promoting religious tolerance in India.

Professor Urdal said Mr Mander was an important voice for religious tolerance and dialogue, and a "worthy recipient" for the peace prize. 

"Under Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist administration, the situation for Muslims in India has become increasingly difficult and the country has seen numerous incidents of religiously motivated violence," Professor Urdal said.

"Religious extremism helps justify discrimination and violence, and stokes tensions between groups that can result in armed conflict.

"Making a significant contribution to fighting religious extremism and promoting inter-religious dialogue is therefore a compelling rationale for being awarded a Nobel Peace Prize."

Professor Urdal also praised Mohammed Zubair and Pratik Sinha — also figures combating religious extremism in India — as worthy candidates.

The pair co-founded Alt News, a fact-checking site making significant contributions to debunking misinformation aimed at vilifying Muslims in India.

Veronica Tsepkalo

Veronica Tsepkalo is a Belarussian politician and founder of the Belarus Women's Foundation.

She is also the wife of Valery Tsepkalo, a politician who fled Belarus for Moscow out of fear of being arrested after being ousted from the election.

Ms Tsepkalo — along with Maria Kolesnikova and Svetlana Tikhanovskaya — has become a symbol of the Belarussian opposition against authoritarian leader, Alexander Lukashenko.

David Attenborough

Nature broadcaster Sir David Attenborough has been nominated by Norwegian politicians for this year's peace prize.

The 96-year-old British Icon is best known for television series, such as Our Planet, Planet Earth and Blue Planet.

Dan Smith, head of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, said the Nobel committee may want to spotlight the world's "existential threat" of climate change.

"You could put together a coalition receiving the Nobel Peace Prize," he said.

Agnes Chow

Agnes Chow is one of Hong Kong's prominent pro-democracy activists.

Ms Chow was imprisoned during the 2019 anti-government protests after serving nearly seven months for her role in an unauthorised protest outside police headquarters.

Her arrest came amid a crackdown on opposition to tighten control by Beijing over the territory.

Agnes Chow was among thousands of people arrested on charges related to protests against a proposed extradition law that expanded to include demands for greater democracy.

Beijing responded to the protests by imposing a sweeping national security law to crack down on dissent, which prompted more public opposition.

"Awarding a peace prize to pro-democracy advocates in Hong Kong would also be an apt gesture, given the rapid erosion of the region's semi-autonomous status," Professor Urdal said.

"Following the adoption of the Hong Kong national security law in 2020, 2021 saw the mass arrest of opposition lawmakers and activists, further erosion of Hong Kong's multi-party legislature, and attacks on what little remains of independent media."

Professor Urdal said a peace prize for Ms Chow would be a "much-needed pushback" against China's efforts to stamp out democracy movements in Hong Kong.

Nathan Law

Nathan Law is a prominent Hong Kong democracy activist.

Mr Law fled to Britain in July, 2020, after China implemented a new national security law in Hong Kong.

Critics such as Mr Law said the legislation effectively ended the "one country, two systems" framework under which the city was promised a high degree of autonomy when it reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997.

"That is blatantly eradicating 'one country, two systems'. It's blatantly putting the last nail in the coffin," Mr Law has said.

Since his exile, Mr Law has urged the international community to prioritise human rights over trade interests, and to present a united front to "combat or contain the authoritarian expansion of China"."

Professor Urdal said a peace prize for Mr Law would also be a "much needed pushback" against China's efforts to stamp out democracy movements.

Simon Kofe

Norwegian politicians revealed their nominees, a list that included Tuvalu's foreign minister Simon Kofe.

Mr Kofe's 2021 speech to the United Nations Climate Conference in Glasgow caught the world's attention because he addressed the conference while standing knee-deep in seawater to show how his low-lying Pacific island nation is on the frontline of climate change.

Images of Mr Kofe standing in a suit and tie at a lectern set up in the sea were shared widely on social media, drawing attention to Tuvalu's struggle against rising sea levels.

Tuvalu's foreign minister Simon Kofe gave his COP26 speech while standing knee-deep in seawater to show how his low-lying Pacific island nation is on the front line of climate change.

"The statement juxtaposes the COP26 setting with the real-life situations faced in Tuvalu, due to the impacts of climate change and sea-level rise and highlights the bold action Tuvalu is taking to address the very pressing issues of human mobility under climate change," Mr Kofe said in his video message.

Big polluters had vowed to intensify their carbon cuts over coming decades, with some aiming for net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

However, Pacific Island leaders demanded immediate action, pointing out that the very survival of their low-lying countries is at stake.

Tuvalu is made up of nine atolls and has a population of around 11,000 people. With its highest point just 4.5 metres above sea level, it's a nation particularly vulnerable to climate change.

Pope Francis

Norwegian politicians have nominated Pope Francis for the peace prize, for his efforts to help solve the climate crisis, as well as his work towards peace and reconciliation.

The pope called upon world leaders to provide effective solutions to climate change at last year's United Nations Climate Conference in Glasgow.

"It is essential that each of us be committed to this urgent change of direction," Pope Francis said in a message broadcast on BBC Radio

"The political decision-makers who will meet at COP26 in Glasgow are urgently summoned to provide effective responses to the present ecological crisis and in this way to offer concrete hope to future generations." 

Greta Thunberg

Greta Thunberg could win the peace prize for her continued environmental activism.

The Swedish teenager remains a steadfast voice in the climate change movement.

During the United Nations Climate Conference in Glasgow, Ms Thunberg held a rally outside the conference where she labelled the event a "failure" and  "a global north greenwash festival".

'Not a secret that COP26 is a failure': Greta Thunberg attacks world leaders' inaction

"They have had 26 COPs. They have had decades of blah, blah, blah — and where has that got us?" Ms Thunberg asked the crowd.

"It seems like their main goal is to continue to fight for the status quo.

"We don't need any more empty promises … [or] commitments that are full of loopholes."

Some of the organisations that have been flagged as possible contenders include:

  • The World Health Organization (WHO)
  • The International Court of Justice (ICJ)
  • International Criminal Court (ICC)
  • Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG) 
  • Center for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS)
  • European Court for Human Rights
  • Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

Who decides the winner and how?

The Norwegian Nobel Committee — which consists of five individuals appointed by the Norwegian parliament — decides the winner.

Members are often retired politicians, but can also be lawyers or academics.

They're all put forward by Norwegian political parties and their appointments reflect the balance of power in Norway's parliament.

When nominations for the peace prize close on January 31, members discuss the nominations and establish a shortlist.

Each nominee is then assessed and examined by a group of permanent advisers and other experts.

The committee meets roughly once a month to discuss the nominations. They usually make their decision at the final committee meeting, which tends to be at the beginning of October.

They seek a consensus on their selection and if they can't reach agreement, the decision is reached by majority vote.

The winner will be announced at the Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo by the chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Berit Reiss-Andersen.


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