Sweden ends row over Nobel Peace Prize attribution

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 22, 2012 3:00 PM
Sweden ends row over Nobel Peace Prize attribution

By Victoria Klesty

OSLO (Reuters) - The Nobel Foundation has defended the award of its annual Peace Prize to U.S. President Barack Obama, Yemeni rights campaigner Tawakul Karman and others by persuading a Swedish regional body that the awards remained consistent with its founder's wishes.

The County Administrative Board of Stockholm said on Thursday in an emailed statement that it had received a reply from the Nobel Foundation which supported its view that the foundation "fulfils its obligation to examine how the Nobel committees work".

It added that it believed the foundation was ready to act if the Norwegian Nobel Committee -- which awards the Peace Prize -- was deemed to not be fulfilling the rules stipulated in the will of founder Alfred Nobel.

"Therefore there is currently no reason for the County Administrative Board to further intervene against the foundation's work...and the matter is to be closed," the board said in the statement emailed to Reuters.

The issue has dogged the Norwegian Nobel Committee since 2008, when Oslo-based author and lawyer Fredrik Heffermehl began arguing that the prize had drifted from Nobel's intent to promote disarmament and peace congresses.

Heffermehl complained to the Stockholm County Administrative Board -- whose duties extend to ensuring that registered foundations fulfill the wishes of their dead benefactors -- that Peace Prize choices have ignored Nobel's directives since 2001.

Nobel, who invented dynamite, wrote in his 1895 will that the peace 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."

While the annual Nobel Prizes in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature and economics are given in Stockholm, Nobel specified that a committee appointed by the Norwegian parliament should pick the peace prize winner. It is given in Oslo.

Heffermehl told Reuters in February that human rights campaigners like Liu Xiaobo, the jailed Chinese dissident who won in 2010, and advocates of the poor like Muhammad Yunus, who won in 2006 for popularizing micro-loans, were fine people but "wrong" for the prize.

Nor did he approve of the three 2011 winners: Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee and the Yemeni democracy advocate Karman.

"After last year you would think it's a prize for democracy and women's rights," he said.

(Editing by Paul Casciato)