OSLO, Norway — A record 259 nominations have been received for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, with candidates including a Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban and a U.S. soldier accused of leaking classified material to WikiLeaks. Fifty of the nominations were for organizations.The secretive committee that awards the prize doesn’t identify the nominees, but those with nomination rights sometimes announce their picks.
Names put forward this year include Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army private who has admitted sending hundreds of thousands of classified documents to the secrecy-busting website WikiLeaks and 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai, an education activist who was shot in the head by Taliban militants while on her way home from school in Pakistan.
“This year’s nominations come from all over the world … well-known names, well-known presidents and prime ministers and also lesser well-known names working in humanitarian projects, human rights activists,” said Norwegian Nobel Committee’s non-voting secretary Geir Lundestad, who announced the nomination numbers Monday. “In recent years, some of the Nobel Peace Prizes may have been controversial but they have added to the interest of the prize.”Last year, the prize went to the European Union for promoting peace and human rights in Europe following the devastation of World War II, but not everyone approved the decision to give it to the bloc, which is dealing with a financial crisis that has led to hardship and suffering for many on the continent.
Three peace prize laureates — South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mairead Maguire of Northern Ireland and Adolfo Perez Esquivel from Argentina — insisted the prize money of $1.2 million should not have been paid out in 2012 because they said the EU contradicts the prize’s values because it relies on military force to ensure security.
The nomination period for 2013 ended on Feb. 1. The previous record of 241 nominations was in 2011.
Kristian Berg Harpviken, the director of the Peace Research Institute Oslo, and a prominent voice in the Nobel guessing game, listed Yousafzai as his favorite for this year’s award, followed by the Congolese physician and gynecologist Denis Mukweg — a leading figure in the fight against sexual violence worldwide — and three Russian female human rights activists: Lyudmila Alexeyeva, Svetlana Gannushkina and Lilya Shibanova.
None of Harpviken’s favorites have won the prize since he started guessing in 2009.
The Nobel Prizes also include awards in medicine, physics, chemistry and literature. A sixth award, the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics, was created by the Swedish central bank in 1968 in memory of prize founder Alfred Nobel.
The winners are usually announced in October and the awards are always presented on Dec. 10, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death in 1896.
The peace prize is awarded in Oslo, while the other Nobel Prizes are presented at ceremonies in the Swedish capital, Stockholm.
Last year, the Nobel Foundation decided to reduce the prize money of each of the six awards by 20 percent to 8 million kronor ($1.2 million) to help safeguard its long-term capital prospects.
The Vatican today stunned the world by declaring the European Union to be a saint, effectively immediately.
Vatican spokesman Hermann Sisler declared: “More than any individual person in recent history, living or dead, the European Union has spread the message of peace, hope, and charity through the world. And besides, they really need the money.”
For the first time ever, the EU’s sainthood also comes with a 10 million euro prize.
“Saint EU” is the first international organization to advance to sainthood. The Church waived the rule that prevents the process of canonization from beginning until five years after a candidate’s death.
The EU is not technically dead yet, according to most political experts.
The surprise announcement comes soon after the European Union being named for the Nobel Peace Prize.
“We are proud to officially declare the European Union to be a saint,” Sisler continued. “With its size and potential for good will, Saint EU dwarfs the power of any one person, such as Mother Theresa, to do good deeds.”
“In the modern world, international organizations alone possess the power, connections and resources to undertake meaningful projects for the common good of humanity. Compared to that, individuals just can’t make a real difference in our globalized world.”
But Sisler denied rumors that the IMF and the World Bank were also being considered for sainthood.
“Not at this time. But the UN and WTO are serious candidates for the near future,” stated Sisler.
EU critics thought the award ridiculous.
Nigel Herring of the UK stated: “This is crazy. Just like the EU Nobel Peace Prize. Sainthood is supposed to go to individuals. Dead people. The European Union is not only not a person; it’s not even a country.”
“And it’s not really the case that EU has somehow kept the peace in Western Europe since World War II. It’s really been NATO. With American troops on the ground in Germany, the Germans have not been able to invade France or partition Poland for a fifth time or whatever. (Though the “Ode to Joy,” the EU national anthem, seems like suitable music for such undertakings.)”
“And those expansionist Belgians have been kept in check as well, except for the fact that they somehow ended up with the capital city of Europe. Very suspicious.”
“But in the end, the EU’s attempts to keep the euro going may prove to be quite divisive. I fear how the end game for the euro could play out,” said Herring.
“It might have made sense to give the prize to the European Coal and Steel Community in the 1950s for tying these economies together after the war, but the EU has inherited a situation conducive to peace in Western Europe. It’s not like there were wars that the EU prevented,” concluded Herring.
Vatican spokesman Sisler concluded: “We have long believed that the twelve stars on Saint EU’s flag represent a halo as seen from above. Now our belief has been realized.”