Nobel Prize: Who nominates, how selection works, here are the answers

The US president was nominated by Christian Tybring-Gjedde, a far-right politician and member of the Norwegian Parliament
Donald Trump, who is approaching the end of a calamitous term as US president and is running for re-election, was nominated this week for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.

Although it's a far cry from winning the coveted prize — the winner will be declared in October 2021 — Trump's nomination has caused many to frown, given the criticism he continues to face for faltering on multiple fronts at home and abroad. But how does the Nobel nomination process and selection of winners work? Here are the answers:

Why was Trump nominated? Has he been nominated before?

The US president was nominated by Christian Tybring-Gjedde, a far-right politician and member of the Norwegian Parliament, for his role in brokering peace between Israel and the United Arab Emirates last month. The two nations decided to normalise relations after Israel agreed to suspend plans of annexing parts of the occupied West Bank. “No matter how Trump acts at home and what he says at press conferences, he has absolutely a chance at getting the Nobel Peace Prize," Tybring-Gjedde told The Associated Press.

Trump received a nomination once earlier, also thanks to Tybring-Gjedde, after the US premier met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a historic summit in 2018.

Has any US president won the Nobel peace prize?

If Trump were to win, he would become the fifth US president to be a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Apart from his predecessor Barack Obama (in 2009), Theodore Roosevelt (1906), Woodrow Wilson (1920) and Jimmy Carter (2002) have won the prize. Several US presidents have been nominated in the past, while one vice-president, Al Gore, won it in 2007. Obama's nomination, just months into his first year, was also met with criticism.

Who nominates candidates and who chooses the Nobel Peace Prize winner?

The Norwegian Nobel Committee selects recipients for the peace prize, which is awarded in Oslo, Norway, whereas the Nobel Prizes in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature and economics are awarded by Swedish institutions in Stockholm.
The Norwegian committee, composed of five members appointed by the country's parliament, receives nominations from political leaders and heads of state worldwide. National lawmakers, university professors, directors of foreign policy institutes, past Nobel recipients and members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee can also submit nominations. The Norwegian Nobel Committee doesn't comment on nominees, and according to its rules, the information is required to be kept secret for 50 years. The nominations have to be submitted before February 1 of the qualifying year. There are 318 candidates vying for the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize, which is to be declared next month (October 9).

Unlike the peace prize, nominations to the technical categories — physics, chemistry, medicine and economics — are by invitation only. The literature committee, meanwhile, sends invitations to nominees, but it also allows a set of “qualified persons” to submit nominations. The name of Rabindranath Tagore, for instance, was proposed by British poet Thomas Sturge Moore in his capacity as a member of the Royal Society of Literature in England. In 1913, Tagore became the first Indian to be awarded a Nobel prize.

Have there been controversial nominations in the past?

The prestigious award — instituted in the memory of Swedish inventor, businessman and philanthropist, Alfred Nobel, and conferred since 1901 — has had several famous recipients. Among the peace prize winners are Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa, while notable omissions include Mahatma Gandhi and Eleanor Roosevelt. The Norwegian Nobel Committee has also received controversial nominations in the past such as Benito Mussolini in 1935, Adolf Hitler in 1939 (albeit non-seriously and withdrawn soon afterwards) and Joseph Stalin in 1945 and 1948. Despite their universal appeal, the Nobel prizes are also criticised for being extremely subjective and for the lack of recognition of women.


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