The List: Who Will Win the Nobel Peace Prize?
Friday the 13th is considered a day of misfortune. This Friday, however, the five members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee will deliver good news to the recipient of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. Who will win? Though a dark-horse winner is not out of the question, FP handicaps some of the frontrunners in this week’s List.
Gerard Cerles/AFP/Getty Images Martti Ahtisaari
Gerard Cerles/AFP/Getty Images Martti Ahtisaari
Why hell get the prize: The 69-year-old former president of Finland is a veteran mediator whos been nominated for the peace prize several times before. His work as a negotiator has taken him from the Horn of Africa to Northern Ireland to Iraq. Last year, he oversaw talks that led to the end of 29 years of fighting between the Indonesian government and the separatist rebels of the Free Aceh Movement in a conflict that left 15,000 dead.
Why he wont: After the Aceh peace accords were signed, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed Ahtisaari as a U.N. special envoy for talks on the final status of Kosovo, which has been in limbo for seven years. Ahtisaari had hoped to have a solution by the end of the year and was expected to recommend full independence for Kosovo. But Serbia recently adopted a new constitution that declares Kosovo as belonging to Serbia, and the talks now seem to be at a standstill. The Nobel Committee may not want to reward Ahtisaari until the Kosovo situation is resolved.
Odds: 2 to 1*
Alex Wong/Getty Images Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
Why hell get the prize: The committee could choose to award both Ahtisaari and Yudhoyono, the first directly elected president of Indonesia, for their work on Aceh. Its also possible that the committee will pick only Yudhoyono, because the 57-year-old Indonesian doesnt carry baggage from the Balkans. Another advantage? Yudhoyono is a moderate Muslim from the most populous Muslim country in the world, something the committee might want to highlight this year, given the recent tensions between Islam and the West.
Why he wont: Yudhoyonos background as a general in Indonesias once all-powerful military may hurt his chances. Additionally, Indonesia recently executed three Catholics who were convicted of leading a militia that killed Muslims during clashes between the two religions a few years ago.
Odds: 4 to 1
Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images Rebiya Kadeer
Why shell get the prize: Kadeer was arrested and imprisoned in 1999 for her human rights campaign on behalf of the Uighur ethnic minority in Chinas Xinjiang province. Although the 59-year-old was released last year and currently lives in exile in the United States, more than 100,000 of Chinas 8 million Uighurs still languish in jail. Kadeer is not just a human rights activist; shes also a symbol. Shes female, Chinese, Muslim, and a leader of an ethnic minoritya combination that the Nobel Committee could find very appealing.
Why she wont: China has accused Kadeer of associating with terrorist organizations that advocate independence for the Uighurs of northern Xinjiang. Beijing has warned Oslo that Chinas relations with the European Union will suffer if Kadeer wins. And even though only 12 out of 113 Nobel Peace Prizes have gone to women, two of them have been in the past three years: Iranian human rights activist Shirin Ebadi in 2003 and Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai in 2004.
Odds: 13 to 1
AFP/Getty Images Thich Quang Do
Why hell get the prize: The Nobel Committee has smiled before on those who fight for religious freedomwitness the Dalai Lama in 1989 and Elie Wiesel in 1986. The 77-year-old Buddhist monk, who spent 25 years in prison and remains under house arrest, is the secretary general of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, an organization that rejects the state supervision of religion. Do just received the annual prize from the Norwegian Thorolf Rafto Foundation for Human Rights, which has a good track record of prediction. Four previous Rafto laureates went on to later win the Nobel.
Why he wont: Along with Kadeer, Do is not as prominent internationally as some of the others on the list. And in a year with so many high-profile conflicts around the world, the prize may not go to someone in an area of the world thats not in headlines every day. Moreover, Vietnam has largely improved religious rights in the past two years in anticipation of its joining the World Trade Organization.
Odds: 15 to 1
Evan Agostini/Getty Images Bono
Why hell get the prize: The frontman for the Irish rock group U2 has long used his celebrity to bring attention to the plight of the poor, by participating in fundraising events such as Band Aid and Live Aid. But in recent years, Bono has really stepped up his work for the developing world. Hes been a vocal proponent of debt relief. He established the policy organization DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa) to eradicate poverty and HIV/AIDS. He attends summits of global leaders, including the G-8 and World Economic Forum, hobnobs with heads of state, and unlike many other celebrities, puts his money where his mouth is.
Why he wont: Hes a rock star. Committee members might find it too frivolous to give the award to a professional entertainer. Besides, at only 46 years old, theres plenty of time to award him in the future.
Odds: 34 to 1
*Odds were cribbed from Australian betting Web site www.centrebet.com on Oct. 9, 2006.
More from Foreign Policy
Can Russia Get Used to Being China’s Little Brother?
The power dynamic between Beijing and Moscow has switched dramatically.
Xi and Putin Have the Most Consequential Undeclared Alliance in the World
It’s become more important than Washington’s official alliances today.
It’s a New Great Game. Again.
Across Central Asia, Russia’s brand is tainted by Ukraine, China’s got challenges, and Washington senses another opening.
Iraqi Kurdistan’s House of Cards Is Collapsing
The region once seemed a bright spot in the disorder unleashed by U.S. regime change. Today, things look bleak.