Awarding Warlords and the Alternative Nobel Prize
- Sunday, 31 July 2011 11:09
We've all heard of the Nobel Prize. Yet, sometimes we cannot help wondering about some of the foundation's mechanisms and criteria for awarding it. Why nominate a President, 12 days after having taken office, for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. Do we award Nobels in anticipation? Is this a credible way to put some pressure on him? Really? Very strange indeed. We thought that he was simply campaigning to win the elections.
Another strange laureate is Kissinger. Serving as the National Security Adviser and Secretary of State to President Richard Nixon, he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973 for his work on the Vietnam Peace Accords, despite having instituted the secret 1969–1975 campaign of bombing against infiltraiting NVA in Cambodia, the alleged U.S. involvement in Operation Condor—a mid-1970s campaign of kidnapping and murder coordinated among the intelligence and security services of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay—as well as the death of French nationals under the Chilean junta. He also supported the invasion of Cyprus resulting in approximately 1/3 of the island being occupied by foreign troops for 33 years. Kissinger was among the modern proponents of power politics, a vision of international relations which prioritizes national interest and security over ideology, moral concerns and social reconstructions. This makes for a very pessimistic stance in a world, where there is little room for peace, don't you think?
And what about Menachem Begin? the 6th Prime Minister of Israel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1978 for his contributions to the successful closure to the Camp David Accords in the same year (the award was jointly given to Begin and Anwar Sadat). Unfortunately, Begin had also previously been head of the militant Zionist group Irgun, which is often regarded as a terrorist organization and had been responsible for the King David Hotel bombing in 1946.
Some say that the sole fact that the Nobel Prizes are attributed to Statesmen, is enough to discretit the foundation. For one, this practice goes against Alfred Nobel's intentions. What if we start honouring those offering practical and exemplary answers to the most urgent challenges facing us today, instead of awarding prize to those who were in a position to change the world, and who unfortunately could only perpetuate our problems.
The Right Livelihood Award honours people who grow in adversity instead of falling silent. Since 1980, 125 such individuals and organisations from more than 50 countries have received the Right Livelihood Award (RLA), or ‘Alternative Nobel Prize,’ as it is often called. These are people who work for democracy, peace and justice. They protect nature and save lives – even at the risk of their own.
It does not believe that technology can cure everything, but holds a more balanced perception of what we need and what works. Right Livelihood means that each person should follow an honest occupation that respects other people and the natural world. It implies responsibility for the consequences of our actions. Thus the solutions the Right Livelihood Award Foundation honours, are not short-term fixes, which pass on the real problems to future generations. The Right Livelihood Award rewards those addressing the roots of a global problem, not just its symptoms.
An international jury, invited by the five regular Right Livelihood Award board members, decides the awards in such fields as environmental protection, human rights, sustainable development, health, education, and peace.
Jakob von Uexkull, a Swedish-German philatelist and former member of the European parliament, established the prize in 1980; he said this year's laureates were role models.
"True change starts at the grassroots level: physicians who did not wait for politicians before acting to end unnecessary suffering in the Middle East; villagers who work themselves out of poverty; and environmental movements which unite the victims of ecological devastation," he said.
Watch Jakob von Uexkull interview, by Democracy Now's Amy Goodman:
The picture above is taken from Francois Robert's collection entitled the Art of Bones. We like it! Here's the rest (hmmm...)