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Myanmar, Climate Activists Among Nobel Peace Prize Nominees

Greta Thunberg, David Attenborough, and the pope are said to be in the running.
by Agence France Presse
Feb 2, 2022
Photo/s: Shutterstock

Myanmar's defenders of democracy, a Belarus opposition leader, the pope, and environmental activists like Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough have emerged as likely nominees for the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize.

Following the Jan. 31 deadline for nominations, several names are believed to have made it onto this year's list, as those eligible to nominate are allowed to reveal their choice.

But the complete list is kept a well-guarded secret for 50 years, as stipulated by the Nobel statutes.

On Tuesday, the first anniversary of Myanmar's Feb. 1, 2021 military coup that toppled Aung San Suu Kyi, a Norwegian lawmaker said he had nominated Myanmar's self-proclaimed shadow government, the "National Unity Government".

"It's the only legitimate government in Myanmar", Ola Elvestuen, a member of parliament for the small Liberal Party, told AFP.

The NUG was formed last April and is made up of dissident lawmakers in hiding or exile, many of them from Suu Kyi's party.

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The country was plunged into chaos after the junta grabbed power by alleging massive fraud during elections in late 2020 which Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won by a landslide.

Myanmar's civil disobedience movement has also been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, proposed by a Norwegian university professor.

Thousands of people are eligible to submit nominations for the prestigious prize, including lawmakers and cabinet members of all countries, former laureates and some university professors.

The five members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee can also submit their own personal preferences at their first meeting of the year, on March 4.


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Knee-deep for the climate 

Many of the names believed to have been put forth this year have been in the running for several years, including Pope Francis, Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, and tireless British environmentalist David Attenborough, who has been nominated together with UN biodiversity experts.

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Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya is the favourite candidate of the Peace Research Institute of Oslo (PRIO).

She "has played a leading role in non-violently challenging (President Alexander) Lukashenko and the Belarusian authorities, calling both for fair elections and an end to violence against those demonstrating against the abuses of the current regime", said PRIO director Henrik Urdal.

Meanwhile, another Norwegian MP said he had nominated Tuvalu's Foreign Minister Simon Kofe, who made headlines for giving a speech to the COP26 climate summit while filmed knee-deep in ocean water. 

"Tuvalu and the other Pacific island nations are doing an important job in waking us up to solve the world's greatest threat to long-term peace: The climate crisis", Guri Melby wrote in a post on Twitter.

Other names cited in Norwegian media include the Arctic Council, WikiLeaks, whistleblower Chelsea Manning, Iranian women's rights activist Masih Alinejad who campaigns against mandatory use of the hijab, and NATO, as tensions flare between the West and Russia over Ukraine.

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The world's focus has been on the COVID-19 pandemic for two years, and individuals or organizations fighting for better health are also likely to have been nominated.

Being nominated for a prize is however in no way a sign of approval by the Nobel committee.

The name of this year's laureate will be announced in October in Oslo.

Last year, the prize went to two journalists fighting for freedom of information, Maria Ressa of the Philippines and Russia's Dmitry Muratov.

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