Edward Snowden: Nobel Peace Prize Winner?

Is the NSA whistleblower a suitable receipient of the prize, or should we be cautious about legitimising criminality?

Photo Credit: DonkeyHotey

Photo Credit: DonkeyHotey

At the end of January, two Norwegian MPs, Baard Vegard Sohjell and Snorre Valen, nominated Edward Snowden for the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize. The reasoning they have given for this decision is “the public debate and changes in policy that have followed in the wake of Snowden’s whistle-blowing has contributed to a more stable and peaceful world order [because] his actions have … led to the reintroduction of trust and transparency”. This has led to further nominations – from a Brazilian senator, Vanessa Grazziotin, and a Swedish professor, Stefan Svallfors, due to “heroic effort at great personal cost”.

However, I think it’s unlikely that Edward Snowden will win the Nobel Peace Prize. At the end of 2013, Snowden, alongside Bashar al-Assad and Miley Cyrus, failed to win Time Magazine’s Person of the Year. The winner was Pope Francis due to his ability to appeal to a large variety of people in only 9 months by talking about the most important current issues; poverty, fairness and justice, modernity, globalisation, role of women, nature of marriage and temptations of power. His approach has been surprising to many as many assumed he would continue where ultra-conservative Pope Benedict XVII left off.

This award is different to the Nobel peace prize because it recognises the person who has made the greatest impact on the news that year, for good or ill; previous winners are Stalin and Hitler. However, I think this highlights that Snowden’s actions are not deemed to have had as large an impact as other figures.

Additionally, thousands of people worldwide can nominate candidates. This means that there are many nominations – last year there were 259. There is therefore a lot of competition.

Other nominations for 2014 include the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Hasim Tachi, alongside the Serbian Prime Minsiter, Ivica Dacic, and Katherine Ashton, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, as well as Malala Yousafzai.

Tachi, Dacic and Ashton were nominated by an alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament for their contribution to both improving and normalising the relationship between Serbia and Kosovo. It is also based on encouragement for continuing their successful work in this area. This is Malala Yousafzai’s second nomination for the Nobel peace prize – she just missed out last year. She was a frontrunner last year so I personally think she has a good chance this year.

Many articles on this subject talk about the Nobel peace prize needing to re-legitimise itself due to some bad decisions in previous years thus they would choose Snowden. However, I think that they would not choose him as his is too controversial a figure, as proved by his inability to pick up his prize if he won as his asylum request to Norway was refused. His appearance on a shortlist will be enough for the committee to recognise his dedication and achievements.

The Shortlist will be announced in March and the winner announced in October.

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