Nobel Peace Prize in the midst of a pandemic: from Trump to Putin, who sounds like this year

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In addition to those nominations that sparked controversy, the name of environmental activist Greta Thunberg rings out. And also the WHO.

They spoke of the president of the United States, Donald Trump, and the Russian Vladimir Putin. The organizations for the defense of press freedom and the Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg. Next week the winner – or winners – of the Nobel Peace Prize will be announced, in an edition marked by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Nobel Prize for Literature and Peace Prize, to be announced on October 8 and 9 respectively, tend to attract the most interest from the public, because they are usually awarded to well-known individuals or organizations.

On the other hand, those of Medicine, Physics, Chemistry and Economics tend to fall into research teams with decades of work behind them, far from the spotlight, or in true eminences in their field that are not usually known to the public.

This year, the new coronavirus gave science a leading role.

“The pandemic is a great crisis for humanity, but it illustrates how important science is,” said Lars Heikensten, director of the Nobel Foundation.

It is not expected that this edition will award any work directly related to the virus, since the verification of a Nobel-winning research usually takes years.

However, the pandemic could influence to the committees that select the laureates.

“At the moment, the pandemic has changed us as thinking beings,” Bjorn Wiman, editor of Culture at Sweden’s largest daily newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, told AFP.

For the Swedish Academy, which awards the Nobel Prize for Literature, “it is clear that the pandemic will somehow affect the reflections of the members of the Nobel (Academy) committee. They are also people.”

“Maybe some things seem more important to us now than they did six months ago,” Wiman said.

Meanwhile, experts in the Nobel Peace Prize stressed the lack of favorites this year.

“There is no real progress for peace or peace agreements,” Dan Smith, director of the Stockholm-based International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), told AFP.

Nobel laureate historian Asle Sveen said Reporters Without Borders (RSF) was his favorite for the award, an option also considered by the director of the Peace Research Institute of Oslo (PRIO), Henrik Urdal, who also mentioned the Committee on Protection of Journalists.

“During conflicts, it is extremely important that journalists contribute by providing information about what is happening, both to hold the parties involved in the conflict accountable for their actions and to inform the outside world,” Urdal told AFP.

Smith and Sveen also named Greta Thunberg, who urged world leaders to “listen to the science” to tackle climate change, as a possible winner along with other activists.

“I think the committee could step outside the strict definition of peace,” Smith said.


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