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Abiy Ahmed tops The Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) Director’s Nobel Shortlist

February 1 was the deadline for nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize. The prestigious prize is awarded each year in Oslo. The Nobel Institute announced that there were 304 candidates nominated for this year’s prize , the fourth highest number ever.
Based on their professional assessments, PRIO Directors have made it a tradition to offer their personal shortlists for the Peace Prize.

This year, Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, topped Director Henrik Urdal’s shortlist, due to his ‘progressive reforms … [and] broader, long-term conflict prevention agenda.’

Henrik Urdal ‘s 2019 Nobel Peace Prize Shortlist

✔ Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia
✔ Reporters Without Borders
✔ The Arctic Council
✔ The International Land Coalition
✔ UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency and High Commissioner Filippo Grandi

Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia
As one of his first major actions after taking office in April 2018, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took steps to formally end the conflict with Eritrea, handing over the disputed border city of Badme and signing a “Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship” on 9 July 2018 with his Eritrean counterpart Isaias Afwerki. In a similarly bold move, Abiy has engaged in dialogue with the many armed, regional Ethiopian opposition groups, succeeding in persuading the Oromo Liberation Front to commit to peaceful participation in the political process.

Progressive reforms following his rise to power include constitutional and security sector reforms, lifting the state of emergency, pardoning political prisoners, and establishing a ministry for peace. Himself of mixed Oromo and Amhara heritage, his mother being an Orthodox Christian and his father a Muslim, Abiy appointed a cabinet demonstrating a rare sensitivity to political inclusion. The president and half of the ministers are women, including a female minister of defense, and all major ethnic and religious groups are represented.

Ethiopia is amongst the countries ranked near the bottom of the Human Development Index, and Abiy’s ambitious program for economic and social reform arguably represents a broader, long-term conflict prevention agenda. Similarly, his initiatives to boost economic collaboration and trade in the region, including agreements securing Ethiopian access to ports in neighboring Djibouti, Sudan, Somaliland, and Kenya, bring hope for a more stable and prosperous development for the whole of the Horn of Africa.

Despite having initiated democratic reforms, Abiy Ahmed has yet to bring about free and fair elections in Ethiopia. In what is still effectively a one-party state, the country ranks below 150 on the V-Dem Liberal Democracy index. While there is precedent for the award of Nobel prizes for contributions to peace processes still underway, the absence of a committed and concrete plan for free and fair elections remains the most serious hurdle to a 2019 peace prize for Abiy.

A possible co-winner could be Eritrea’s president Isaias Afwerki, in acknowledgement of the peace agreement finally resolving the Eritrean-Ethiopian War.

Nominations for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize

The list below is based on publicly available information, from the press, the web, or provided to us directly. It is almost certainly far from exhaustive, as the Nobel Committee receives more than 200 nominations every year. Moreover, although we do undertake a minimum of quality assurance, the list is by no means certain. Nominators are asked not to disclose their nominations, and the committee’s proceedings are kept secret for 50 years. Consequently, we cannot vouch for a nomination actually having been received, nor whether the committee has accepted it. Provided that the nominator fulfills the criteria , any person or organization may be nominated regardless of objective standing (the nominations of Hitler and Stalin being cases in point). The committee may also add names to the list themselves in advance of their first meeting after the deadline. The committee base their final selection on specifications in Alfred Nobel’s will , their interpretation of which is disputed by the Nobel Peace Prize Watch . The NPPW usually keep their own list of nominations deemed qualified according to their reading of the will.

★ Kate Dewes and Rob Green, nuclear disarmament advocates, nominated by a former MP from Australia [nomination eligibility applies to current MPs , however].

★ Donald Trump, US President, nominated by a group of US Members of Congress, as well as by Norwegian MPs representing the Progress Party , for his North Korea effort.

★ Bill Richardson, veteran US diplomat, nominated by a group of Democrat politicians for his diplomatic work securing the release of political prisoners in North Korea.

★ Tong Zeng, advocate for wartime compensation from Japanese companies for forced labor during WW2, nominated by a Russian professor of history.

★ Chef José Andrés, founder of World Central Kitchen, nominated by US Congressman John Delaney .

★ Macedonian and Greek Prime Ministers Zoran Zaev and Alexis Tsipras, nominated for their signing of the Prespa Agreement, by 2015 Peace Prize laureate Ouided Bouchamaoui and supported by Members of the European Parliament .

★ Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, nominated by 1976 Peace Prize laureate Mairead Maguire .

★ UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, nominated by Norwegian MPs representing Socialist Left .

★ Irwin Cotler, law professor, human rights lawyer and former Canadian MP and minister, nominated by former Prime Minister of Canada Paul Lewis [however, as above, nomination eligibility applies to those currently in office].

★ Osman Kavala, Turkish philanthropist, is possibly nominated by a group of academics and human rights defenders.

★ Anna Tuv, possibly nominated for her efforts to bring attention to and end the conflict in Donbass.

★ Jerzy Owsiak, creator of the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity, possibly nominated, but unclear if by or supported by eligible nominator.

★ Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama, Islamic Civil organizations in Indonesia, to be nominated according to this website .

★ Loujain al-Hathloul, Saudi Arabian activist, nominated by a group of Norwegian and Canadian politicians for her campaigning against gender inequality in Saudi Arabia.

★ Ukrainian film-maker Oleg Sentsov, nominated by 1983 Peace Prize laureate , Lech Wałęsa, for his campaigning against the Russian annexation of Crimea.

★ Chinese academic Ilham Tohti, currently incarcerated, nominated by a group of US politicians for his advocacy for the rights of the Muslim Uyghur ethnic group in China.

★ Angela Gui, daughter of the imprisoned Swedish-Chinese publisher Gui Minhai, nominated by a Swedish politician for her efforts to bring about her father’s release.

★ Turkish-Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaşnominated for challenging Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s regime.

★ Mimmo Lucano, former mayor of Riace, nominated for promoting the inclusion of immigrants and refugees, in opposition to Italy’s current populist government.

★ Local fishermen in Kerala, nominated by an Indian politician for their contribution to the aid effort during last year’s major floods.

★ Lula de Silva, the imprisoned former Brazilian president, nominated by 1980 Peace Prize laureate Adolfo Pérez Esquivel .

★ Professors Ikuro Anzai and Klaus Schlichtmann, as well as the SA9 campaign, nominated by Norwegian law professors Terje Einarsen and Aslak Syse, for promoting the second paragraph of article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, and seeking its adoption worldwide.

★ Benjamin Ferencz, former prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials and peace activist, nominated by Professor Hope May for his lifelong campaigning against wars of aggression.

★ Coalition for the International Criminal Court and CICC general secretary Bill Pace, nominated by Norwegian law professors Terje Einarsen and Aslak Syse.

★ Daniel Ellsberg, nominated by Norwegian MP Marit Arnstad for his promotion of whistle-blowing and lifelong criticism of state secrecy.

★ US legal scholar Richard Falk, nominated by Jan Oberg and Prof. Farzeen Nasri for his academic and political work on global governance and democracy.

★ International Association of Lawyers against Nuclear Arms (IALANA), nominated by Norwegian law professor Alf Petter Høgberg .

★ David Krieger and Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (NAPF), nominated by Prof. Jack Kultgen .

★ Mayors for Peace, nominated by Prof. Lawrence S. Wittner for campaigning for the global elimination of nuclear weapons.

★ Jan Oberg, director of the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research, nominated by Danish MP Christian Juhl for the TFF’s contribution to the humanitarian effort in Burundi.

★ Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (PNND), nominated by Professors Aytuğ Atıcı and Kristian Andenæs and Dr. Marouf Bakhit .

★ Whistleblower Edward Joseph Snowden, nominated by Swedish MPs for fostering an open and democratic debate on state surveillance and cyberwarfare.

★ US activist and author David Swanson, nominated by Prof. Jeff Backman for his advocacy for the abolition of war.

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