Sun, October 14, 2012
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Commentary: Nobel committee should reflect on booing sounds

2012-10-13 17:35:43 GMT2012-10-14 01:35:43(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

When the Norway-based Nobel committee announced granting this year's Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union (EU) on Friday, some of the press and media audience started booing.

The first reaction of Czech President Vaclav Klaus to the news was that "It was a hoax, a joke." The Atlantic monthly said on its website that "a sneering tone was detectable."

The public of Greece and Spain, both deeply mired in a sovereign debt crisis, were even irritated by the prize, deeming it a satire to their broken countries.

Actually, the EU is well qualified to win the prize and any other international peace prize. Most of Europe has transformed from a continent of war to a continent of peace. No one can deny that the EU integration has afforded the continent 67 years without conflict since the end of the Second World War.

According to the will of Swedish industrialist and inventor Alfred Nobel, the Peace Prize shall be awarded to the 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." Institutions were also included in the prize recipient later on.

The EU has obviously acted in accordance with Nobel's will in promoting friendly cooperation between its member states. But why the press and the public still poured scorn on the decision?

The most direct reason is that the award was granted at a wrong time. The EU did not win the prize when it contributed most to peace and unity, but became the laureate when the eurozone debt crisis challenges the 27-nation bloc's unity and leads to social unrest in many of its member states. It is understandable that many doubt whether the award is a honor or a satire.

Furthermore, the boos were actually directed at the five-member Nobel Committee, rather than the 27-nation bloc as a whole. The committee, appointed by the Norwegian parliament, is mainly composed of Norwegian politicians, and controversies have increased sharply since Thorbjoern Jagland became the chairman of the committee.

In 2009, the committee granted the peace prize to U.S. President Barack Obama, less than a year after he was elected, and Obama himself even felt "surprised" by the win. Sweden even launched an investigation to see whether the decision has been made in accordance with Nobel's will.

Indeed, Jagland has good intention. He hoped the prize to the EU could remind the public of the aim of the bloc's creation, especially when the European continent is facing the threat of disintegration.

It is true that the existence of the EU and the eurozone is not only an economic issue, but also a political one. The collapse of the currency union might bring an unimaginable catastrophe to the global economy and the world peace. Just as German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, efforts to save the euro are also a drive to ensure peace on the continent.

Actually, Jagland's good-will should not be blamed, but the Nobel Committee should not take the advantage of the prize to make a political show. The committee members have turned the peace prize into an occasion to express their political monologue on international hotspot issues, which has generated more opposition and criticism.

It has been proved that with more and more booing sounds, people tend to believe the prize is less reliable, and its authority has been undoubtedly affected.

Looking back to the history of the Nobel Peace Prize, a total of 99 people and 23 institutions have been granted the award from 1901 to 2012, and not all of them have received boos.

Many of the laureates, including Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa and the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces, are all worthy of the honor. The reputation of the Nobel Peace Prize actually relies on these wise choices. If the committee members were always so unreliable, no one would take the prize seriously any more.


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