News Release

Nobel Peace Prize Purpose: Ending War or Taking Sides?


PBS reports: “Ukrainian Nobel Peace Prize winner works to hold Russia accountable for atrocities.” The Ukraine-based Center for Civil Liberties will receive the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway this Saturday. Other awardees are Ales Bialiatski from Belarus and the Russian organization Memorial, which was founded when the Soviet Union ended to document abuses under Stalin.

Heffermehl is with Nobel Peace Prize Watch and wrote the book The Nobel Peace Prize: What Nobel Really Wanted and most recently Fame or Shame? Norway and the Nobel Peace Prize, currently only available in Norwegian.

He states that “erstwhile politicians on the Norwegian Nobel Committee have always ignored the centrality of global disarmament as the way to end war described in Nobel´s testament. Regarding the awardees this year, the unfortunate reality is that the committee takes side in wars rather than, as it should, do its best to end war.”

He just wrote the forthcoming piece “Nobel Peace Prize: One Hundred Years of Squandered Opportunity.”

Heffermehl argues that for its first two decades, the Nobel “prize for champions of peace” was, with few exceptions, actually given to qualified recipients. “However, beginning in 1922, in the aftermath of World War I and partly because of a sense that militarism could not be meaningfully reined in, the award was given to people who didn’t actually do much to stop war.”

He notes that the original purpose of the prize Alfred Nobel intended was to support demilitarization. In his will, Nobel wrote that the prize should be awarded to the “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for the fraternity of nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”