The Nobel Peace Prize will be unveiled Friday, with experts speculating it could go to critics of Vladimir Putin, climate activists or even no prize at all amid the war in Ukraine.
The climax of the Nobel season, the Peace Prize laureate will be announced at 11:00 am (0900 GMT) in Oslo, against the backdrop of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine which has plunged Europe into one of its worst crises since World War II.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee keeps the list of nominations a closely guarded secret, but it is known to have 343 names on it, including 251 individuals and 92 organisations.
With Ukraine dominating headlines since the start of the year, some prize experts say it is doubtful the committee can ignore it.
“It is likely we will see a prize that in one way or another will point in the direction of Ukraine,” the director of the Peace Research Institute Oslo, Henrik Urdal, told Norwegian broadcaster NRK just hours before the announcement.
In such case, he said possible laureates could be Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and Russian dissident Alexei Navalny, thorns in the side of the Kremlin and one of its few allies in the war, Belarus strongman Alexander Lukashenko.
Or it could go to the International Court of Justice based in The Hague, which in March ordered the immediate end of the Russian offensive, or the UN High Commission for Refugees, as millions of people have been displaced by the conflict.
Urdal also mentioned those documenting suspected war crimes, such as the International Criminal Court (ICC), also based in The Hague, or investigative site Bellingcat.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky’s chances are seen as minimal as long as the war is raging, even though he is the bookies’ favourite.
Other Nobel observers — including Oda Andersen Nyborg, head of the Norwegian Peace Council — have meanwhile suggested the prize could this year go to climate campaigners, as the planet’s alarm bells ring.
Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg has been seen as a potential Nobel laureate for several years despite her young age, and could take home the prize with her movement “Fridays for Future”, British naturalist David Attenborough or other environmentalists.
– ‘Tense world’ –
The five members of the Nobel committee may also go in an entirely different direction, or even decide to not award the prize at all, as they have already done 19 times in the past, most recently 50 years ago.
The head of the committee hinted mildly however that the panel had chosen one or several laureates — up to three can be honoured.
The decision was “maybe even harder” this year, Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, told NRK, noting that “we’re living in a difficult security situation and a tense world”.
Last year, the Peace Prize crowned two champions of freedom of the press, Philippine journalist Maria Ressa and her Russian colleague Dmitry Muratov.
The Peace Prize is the only Nobel awarded in Oslo, with the other disciplines announced in Stockholm.
On Monday, the Medicine Prize kicked off the 2022 season, going to Swedish paleogeneticist Svante Paabo, who discovered Neanderthal DNA and the previously unknown Denisova hominin.
The Physics Prize on Tuesday honoured Alain Aspect of France, Austria’s Anton Zeilinger and John Clauser of the United States for their discoveries in the field of quantum entanglement.
On Wednesday, the Chemistry Prize went to another trio, Carolyn Bertozzi and Barry Sharpless of the United States together with Morten Meldal of Denmark, for laying the foundation for a more functional form of chemistry where molecules are linked together, called click chemistry.
French author Annie Ernaux on Thursday won the Nobel Literature Prize, the 17th woman to get the nod out of 119 literature laureates since 1901.
The Nobel season winds up Monday with the Nobel Economics Prize.