I am about to have my third meeting with the Nobel Peace Prize Nomination Committee of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). What a privilege to spend time with these Quakers, twelve people from three continents. They are knowledgeable, committed and fascinating people, and our conversations are consistently compelling.
The list of people and organizations that are allowed to make nominations for the NPP is fairly short, and is made up primarily of those who have received the prize. In 2010 there were only 237 nominations worldwide, and that is the most nominations that have ever been submitted. That means that being a part of choosing one of them is quite a privilege. Beyond that, simply aiming the spotlight that comes with being nominated at a person or organization that needs to be elevated can be useful. I invite your thoughts on worthy nominees. Here is some information from the Quakers:
In 1947, the American Friends Service Committee and Friends Service Council in Britain accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of all Quakers. As a Nobel laureate, AFSC is able to nominate a candidate for the Peace Prize to the Oslo Committee. AFSC takes advantage of this opportunity, and we canvas widely among Quakers and others for potential nominees. We would like to invite you to participate in our quest for nominees for the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize.
To help you in discerning a candidate for AFSC’s Nobel Peace Prize Nomingating Committee to consider, note that the person/organization you nominate must be alive/still active, and not a previous recipient of the prize. It has been our practice not to put forward the names of Friends or programs initiated by Friends, in order not to appear self-serving.
The Nobel Criteria
Alfred Nobel’s will establishing the Peace Prize specified that the prize should go “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.” Fairly early in its history, the Norwegian Nobel Committee felt clear to award the Peace Prize to organizations as well as individuals. More recently, it has extended these criteria to include contribution to the advancement of human rights.
Criteria of the AFSC Nobel Peace Prize Nominating Committee
- The candidate’s commitment to nonviolent methods.
- The quality of the candidate as a person and of her/his sustained contribution to peace.
- The candidate’s work on issues of peace, justice, human dignity, and the integrity of the environment.
- The candidate’s possession of a world view and/or global impact as opposed to a parochial concern.
We also consider:
- Giving attention to candidates from all parts of the world.
- Noting crisis areas and considering candidates related to them only as a Nobel Prize may, by its timeliness and visibility, offer valuable support to a solution to the crisis.
- The relevance of a candidates work to the work of AFSC or other Quaker experience.
For the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, AFSC nominated Nihon Hidankyo, the Japanese national organization of Hibakusha, survivors of the atomic and hydrogen bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and exploded on the Bikini Atoll, for their sustained personal witness on behalf of the complete abolition of nuclear weapons. Other recent AFSC nominees include Roy Bourgeois and School of the Americas Watch, Gene Sharp, lifelong scholar of nonviolent action; Aminatou Haidar, nonviolent activist for the rights of the Sahrawi people in Western Sahara; the Colombian peace communities of San José de Apartadó and the Asociación de Cabildos Indígenas del Norte del Cauca. Click here for more information and a complete list of all of those whom AFSC has nominated.
On my trip to Australia the week before last I had the wonderful opportunity to meet in person one of the committee members I’ve been serving with from afar. Rajmohan Ramanathapillai is an Indian-American who married an Australian and now lives in Perth. He is also the founder of the peace studies department at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania. We met in Brisbane during my brief visit there and had a rich and wonderful conversation. I have the sense that we will be friends for a long time. There are so many unexpected gifts in this work.
Thanks for your interest, and, in advance, for your input.