Where are the Peacemakers? A Nobel Laureate on the Degeneration of the Peace Prize


Alfred Nobel was a visionary who believed in a demilitarized peaceful world.  In his will he left his Nobel peace prize to those who would work for ‘fraternity among nations’, ’abolition or reduction of standing armies’, and ‘holding and promotion of peace congresses’.

In Nobel’s will the award for Peace was to go to Champions of peace, those working to replace militarism with international order based on law and the abolition of national military forces.  Nobel’s vision and dream was to replace the power of militarism and war, with the power of law.   I believe the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union, does not meet the criteria of Alfred Nobel’s vision and spirit, and his vision of a demilitarized peaceful world.

In many ways the European Union has done much in the past sixty years for peace and reconciliation amongst nations, but it has sadly done little for the demilitarization of Europe.  Whilst the EU imposes  severe austerity measures upon many EU  countries it simultaneously supports the growing militarisation of Europe by its support for US/NATO (guilty of war crimes against Iraq, Afghanistan,  etc.,)  It continues to support the policies of the USA - nuclear weapons held in six EU States.  It supports arms sales from European States (UK, Germany, etc.,) to countries all around the world.   The EU instead of upholding human rights for countries such as Palestine, has rewarded Israel by giving them special trading status and huge grants (EU tax payers money) for its military research and weapons thus enabling it to continue it illegal policies of occupation and apartheid  of Palestine.

I cannot support this decision to give the peace prize to EU and appeal to the Swedish Foundation Authority to hold the Nobel Committee accountable for giving, yet again, a political award instead of supporting people taking courageous, and often dangerous stands to help move the human family away from military international relations to one based on peaceful resolution of conflict.

I believe that the reform of the Nobel Peace Committee is now necessary. As is the case of all other Nobel Prize committees, which are made-up of experts in their particular field, perhaps it is time too for the Nobel Peace Prize Committee to be comprised of people experienced in the field of peacemaking and International Law.

Mairead Maguire is a Nobel Peace Laureate and a co-founder of Northern Ireland’s Peace People.