In his Will, Alfred Nobel outlined that his annual peace prizes should be awarded to a “person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”
The 2013 Nobel Peace Prize had a record 259 nominations, but Russian president Valdimir Putin has much of the world now anxiously looking forward to the 2014 awards ceremony. Although the secretive Nobel Peace Prize Committee does not publicize the nominees, those with nomination rights will sometimes reveal their picks.
On Tuesday, the Russian advocacy group International Academy of Spiritual Unity and Cooperation of Peoples of the World nominated Putin on the grounds that he “actively promotes settlement of all conflicts arising on the planet,” citing the former KGB agent’s key role in preventing a US missile strike on Syria as the primary basis for the nomination.
Never mind the current war being waged against Georgia or the violent campaign against separatists in Chechnya or the anti-gay legislation that bans foreign adoption of Russian babies to same-sex couples or the fact that Putin, himself, was supplying weapons to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
Apparently, all minor details.
Vladimir Putin’s unanticipated 2014 nomination has taken the attention away from the deserved social activists and humanitarians that are in contention for this year’s prize.
Here are several extraordinary and inspiring individuals and organizations that are likely competitors for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.
Yousafzai is 15 year-old Pakistani education and women’s rights activist from the Swat Valley that was shot in the head, while on her way home from school, in an assassination attempt by the Taliban. Now 16, Yousafzai has graced the cover of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World and has appeared in front of the UN to call for a greater worldwide access to education. She is the youngest person ever to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
2. Denis Mukwege Mukwege is a Congolese gynecologist that founded the Panzi hospital in Bakuvu in 1999, specializing in the treatment of victims of sexual assault and gang-rape by rebel forces during the nation’s civil war. Mukwege is one of the worlds’ most recognizable combatants of sexual violence and a leading global expert on the repair of physical damage caused by gang-rape.
3. Echo of Moscow
Sometimes called “the last bastion of free media in Russia,” the Echo of Moscow is a Russian radio station and website that broadcasts to many former-Soviet republics, offering analytical and factual commentary on both domestic and international social and political issues.
4. Archimandrite Gervasios Raptopoulos
This Greek Orthodox priest has helped to free over 15,200 needy prisoners, from across 90 countries, that have been detained for small offenses and cannot afford bail for their sentence. His ministry also contributes to the families of prisoners detained abroad, giving their children a monthly allowance of 300 euros until they complete their university studies. 5. Claudia Paz y Paz Bailey
Paz y Paz grew up during the Guatemalan civil war, determined to study law and help bring justice to her war-torn country. Now, as Guatemala’s first female attorney general, Paz y Paz and her office brought former dictator and general Effrain Rios Montt to trial for charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, including the killing of over 1700 indigenous Mayans. He was the first former head of state to be tried for genocide by his country’s judicial system.
6. Gene Sharp
Inspired by the likes of Gandhi and Thoreau, Sharp is a non-violence scholar. Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian governments used his writings during their 1991 separation form the Soviet Union, and several other non-violent resistance campaigns, including Serbia’s Otpor! and Ukraine’s Pora!, have been inspired by Sharp’s handbook “From Dictatorship to Democracy.”
7. John Onaiyekan and Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar.
The Catholic archbishop and the Sultan of Sokoto are jointly nominated for their efforts to prevent the misuse of religion to substantiate violence. Both men have served as co-presidents for the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC), while Onaiyekan currently serves as the head of the African Council of Religious Leaders and Abubakar as the president of the Nigerian National Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs.