March 1, 2011

2011 Nobel Peace Prize Has Record Amount Of Nominations

There is a record 241 nominations for the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, including anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, the Internet and a Russian human rights activist.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee said on Tuesday that the 2011 field includes 53 organizations and tops the 237 nominees on last year's list.

Known nominees also include Afghan rights advocate Sima Samar, the European Union, former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya Sardinas, Russian rights group Memorial and its founder Svetlana Gannushkina.

"Looking at the long term, we can say interest in the prize is strong and growing along with the number of candidates," Geir Lundestad, a non-voting member of the Nobel panel, told Reuters.

Members of all national parliaments, professors of law or political science and previous winners are among those that are allowed to make the nominations. 

WikiLeaks angered a number of governments by publishing thousands of secret diplomatic documents.  Julian Assange, the site's founder, is facing extradition from Britain to Sweden on sex crime allegations.

Lundestad would not be drawn on how the popular uprising sweeping North Africa and the Middle East could influence the discreet five-member Nobel panel, according to Reuters reporter Wojciech Moskwa.

Some pundits said the Internet or social media like Facebook and Twitter could be rewarded.

Lundestad said those most active this year in making nominations were members of the Norwegian parliament and the U.S. Congress.

The Nobel panel has not shied away from bold decisions.  Last year the panel awarded the prize to failed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.

Former Prime Minister Thorbjoern Jagland promised to make the Nobel Peace Prize more relevant and more central to world affairs after an era in which laureates included a tree campaigner and a micro-loan pioneer.

The laureate or laureates will be announced in October.  The prize includes $1.58 million.


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