Record number of Peace Prize nominations, committee saysby Lennart Simonsson, dpa (Roundup)
Mar 1, 2011, 11:38 GMT
Oslo/Stockholm - A total of 241 nominations have been made for the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, a new high for the coveted award, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said Tuesday.
'The number edges up year by year,' said Geir Lundestad, director of the Nobel Institute. 'Nominations come from almost all parts of the world,' he added, citing growing interest in the prize.
The tally includes 188 individuals and 53 organizations, topping last year's number of 237 nominations. The 2010 award was given to jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.
US President Barack Obama was the surprise choice from 205 nominees in 2009.
The number of nominees was released after the five-member Nobel Committee on Monday held its first session, formally registering all the nominations.
Lundestad observed that lawmakers in Norway and the United States were among the most active nominators but as interest in the prize has grown, proposals have come 'from almost all over the world.'
An exception was China, 'we have not received any nominations from (members of) the People's Congress,' he said with a brief laugh.
This was hardly a surprise considering Beijing's angry reactions after the selection of Liu Xiaobo in 2010. China stayed away from the award ceremony in December and Liu's chair was empty at the ceremony - no one representing him was allowed to travel to Oslo.
The committee advises those making nominations not to reveal their proposals in advance. However, there are no formal rules against doing so.
Among proposals made by Norwegian lawmakers this year were whistle-blower website WikiLeaks for its role in promoting freedom of speech, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia and Liberian- born peace activist Leymah Roberta Gbowee for their efforts to end conflict in the West African country.
Another nominee was Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya Sardinas for uniting the opposition to the government in Havana.
The Community of Sant'Egidio, a Catholic group that has promoted dialogue and reconciliation in several conflicts in Africa as well as opposing the death penalty, has also been put forward.
Kristian Berg Harpviken, head of the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), which is not affiliated with the Nobel Peace Prize, favours three women to win.
His shortlist is topped by the Russian human rights organization Memorial that focuses on reconciliation through historical documentation and its founding member Svetlana Gannushkina.
Gbowee of Liberia and Ory Okolloh of Kenya, who has pioneered the use of mobile phones and the internet to monitor violence, repression and corruption, were also mentioned by Harpviken.
The winner is usually announced in early October.
The next phase in the committee's work is to reduce the number of nominations to 'fewer than 10' and focus on them, said Lundestad, who also serves as secretary to the Nobel Committee.
The institute was set up in 1904 and assists the Nobel Committee in vetting candidates nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
The Peace Prize is one of several prizes endowed by the Swedish industrialist and inventor of dynamite, Alfred Nobel.
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