Imagine Novaya gazeta with the Nobel medal on the banner

Novaya Gazeta Cover commemorating their journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who died 7 October eight years ago.

In the past-but-still-present Soviet times, leading newspaper proudly carried a set of awards – like the Order of the Red Star – on their front pages. I can just imagine the fiercely independent Novaya gazeta sporting the Nobel medal on its banner (just above the usual political cartoon) – as an added challenge to the revival of the Soviet symbolism and propaganda.Read More

What if the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to Snowden?

Edward Snowden’s nomination for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize has stirred controversy in Norway and internationally. Is Snowden a (US) traitor or a (global) saviour? Will Norway allow him to receive the prize, resisting US demands to arrest and hand him over?

SnowdenAlong with previous years’ nominations of Julian Assange and Bradley (Chelsea) Manning, Snowden’s candidacy brings attention to one of the largest threats to liberal societies as we know them: traditional human – hence limited – intelligence is replaced or supported by seemingly limitless technology, electronic surveillance and big data. Read More

The Japanese Peace Clause

The peace clause in the Japanese constitution, Article 9, was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in April this year. No doubt some will ask why a Japanese constitutional clause is worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Colors of Peace. Japanese children all over the country create these little crane birds of paper in memory of Sadako Sasaki. Sadako and the paper crane birds became a symbol for world peace in Japan after her death in 1955.  Photo from Flickr: Vincent van der Pas.

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Why Speculate on the Nobel Peace Prize?

Why would anyone take it upon themselves to offer speculations on who is to win the Nobel Peace Prize every year? With close to 300 nominees, most of which are secret to everyone but the committee, and a virtually unlimited number of possible winners, the chance of getting it right seems slim. Foreign Policy listed my Nobel speculations as one of the 10 worst predictions in 2012. In a recent op-ed in Aftenposten, Norway’s leading national newspaper, Peace Prize Committee Chair Thorbjørn Jagland complains about the noise from a range of experts and commentators, against which the committee needs to shield itself. If the odds for getting it right are so poor, and the criticism so direct, why would anybody want to, year after year, offer speculations on who is to be the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate?

Last year’s unanticipated Nobel Peace Prize laureate, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, here represented by Director-General Ahmet Üzümcü. Photo: OPCW

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What about Rosneft new discovery?

The Arctic ice has reached its seasonal minimum, and it is now clear that 2014 is the sixth lowest on the satellite record, but still quite a lot icier than 2012. It is exactly in this optimal “window” that Rosneft has announced that the drilling from the Unviersitetskaya platform in the Kara sea did found… Read more »

A New Afghan Spring?

Afghan presidential candidates at the time, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah shaking hands after both addressed reporters at the United Nations Mission Headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan on July 12, 2014. Photo: U.S. Department of State (Wikimedia).

Sitting in Kabul today, watching the Presidential inauguration on local television, it is difficult to say whether we are seeing a new Afghan spring or the onset of a disaster.

After weeks and weeks of quarrelling, the two main presidential contenders settled on a power-sharing formula: Ashraf Ghani is the new president, while Abdullah Abdullah takes up a newly established Prime Minister post. The latter also demanded a more prominent role during the inauguration, however, which led to a hot debate over the inaugural liturgy during the last few days. In fear of Abdullah abstaining, many sighed with relief when he finally appeared on stage. But in the end, the inauguration was Ghani’s ceremony. As the newly sworn in president, he delivered a lengthy and ambitious address that poked a finger at many of those present.Read More

This Week in South Sudan – Week 39

Monday 22 September 7,500 people were displaced by floods in Warrap State. The South Sudanese army paraded war captives. The African Union urged the warring parties in South Sudan to respect the ceasefire. Nine SPLA-in-Opposition officials surrendered to the government. More than 80 people fled Rumbek Central County (Lakes State) following the violence last week…. Read more »

Refugees are a Shared Responsibility

A record number of refugees have arrived by boat in southern Europe this summer. Norway should voice its support for a common European solution to the issue of boat migrants crossing the Mediterranean.

A boat carrying asylum seekers and migrants in the Mediterranean Sea.
Photo: NHCR/L.Boldrini

Last year this would have been front-page news, but now each new arrival – or each refugee boat that is lost at sea – is just one more in a series. Estimates suggest that more than 100,000 refugees have arrived by boat so far this year. This is a dramatic figure. The previous record was 63,000 for the whole of 2011, which was the year the Arab Spring brought about unrest in the region.Read More