In October of each year, the Nobel Prize committee announces who has excelled in the fields of chemistry, physics, literature, economics, medicine and peace.
The Peace Prize is to be awarded to individuals and institutions that “have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses,” according to Alfred Nobel’s will.
While meant to recognize those whose work has greatly benefited or contributed to the advancement and unity of mankind, the Nobel Peace Prize has sometimes been given to those with violent pasts, those whose award-winning work contains factual errors, or those whose accomplishments do not quiet bear up under close examination. It may be a rare occasion that the committee’s choices were short-sighted, or even worse, naive, but a number of poor decisions have been made. Here are the five most controversial Nobel Peace Prize winners of all time.
1.Henry Kissinger, the American Butcher. (1973)
“The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer.”
These, WikiLeaks revealed, were the words Kissinger once uttered to Turkey’s foreign minister, and they could almost serve as a mission statement for Kissinger in his role as the principal architect of U.S. foreign policy from 1969 to 1977.
Easily one of the most controversial Nobel Peace Prize winners of all time (if not the most) is Henry Kissinger. The U.S. Secretary of State during both the Nixon and Ford administrations was a joint winner in 1973 with North Vietnamese leader Le Duc Tho. Le Duc Tho rejected the award, given for the pair’s peace work in South Vietnam, because he felt that peace had not yet been achieved in the area — and doubly, didn’t want to share the award with Kissinger. Of course, the war would not end for another two years, and it was Kissinger who fundamentally supervised the slaughter, in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
Kissinger accepted the award “with humility,” but many felt that it should never have been offered to him in the first place. There were two reasons for this controversy. Kissinger was accused of war crimes for his alleged role in America’s secret bombing of Cambodia between 1969 and 1975. His win was also called premature since North Vietnam invaded South Vietnam two years after the prize was awarded, voiding his work. Two Norwegian Nobel Committee members resigned to protest Kissinger’s win.
Kissinger was also behind Operation Condor, the U.S.-orchestrated campaign of murder, torture, and disappearances in Latin America, including, most notably, his pivotal his support of the military coup that ousted the democratically elected socialist president of Chile, Salvador Allende. In the years that followed, Kissinger and Chile’s brutal dictator Augusto Pinochet would become thick-as-thieves, so-to-speak.
Elsewhere on the continent, Kissinger extended massive U.S. support to Argentina’s right-wing military, who in March of 1976 launched the “Dirty War”, a massacre against leftists that left as many as 30,000 dead and disappeared.
In Cambodia, Kissinger’s carpet-bombing led directly to the takeover of Pol Pot’s genocidal Khmer Rouge regime. Also, documents released in 2014 revealed that in 1976, Kissinger planned to launch airstrikes against Havana, strike ports and military installations in Cuba and send Marine battalions to the U.S. Naval Base at Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay.
Most noteworthy is the involvement of Henry Kissinger in giving the green light to Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus.The links between Kissinger and Turkey formed a long lasting relationship between Kissinger and the Israeli Lobby in the United States, particularly the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the Turks.
2. Shimon Peres “for his efforts to create peace in the Middle East” (1994)
His pivotal role in realising the Oslo Accords through a back channel in the early 1990s earned him – after frantic lobbying on his own behalf – the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994, alongside Israel’s prime minister of the time, Yitzhak Rabin, and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
As prime minister in 1996, Peres ordered and oversaw “Operation Grapes of Wrath” when Israeli armed forces killed some 154 civilians in Lebanon and injured another 351. The operation, widely believed to have been a pre-election show of strength, saw Lebanese civilians intentionally targeted.
Peres’ most important task, to which he was entrusted by Ben-Gurion, was developing in secret – and over United States opposition – Israel’s nuclear weapons programme through the 1950s and 60s. To that end, he recruited the assistance of France, Britain and Norway.In 1975, as secret minutes have since revealed, Peres met with South African Defence Minister PW Botha and “offered to sell nuclear warheads to the apartheid regime.”
In April 1996, Peres faced a significant right-wing backlash at home over his peace deal with the Palestinians, for which he was awarded the prize two years earlier alongside Israel’s late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. In the midst of this pressure, he unleashed the operation, forcing 400,000 Lebanese to flee their homes.
Another one of Peres’ responsibilities in his capacity as director general of the defence ministry was to “Judaise” the Galilee; that is to say, to pursue policies aimed at reducing the region’s proportion of Palestinian citizens compared to Jewish ones.
In 2005, as Vice Premier in the cabinet of Ariel Sharon, Peres renewed his attack on Palestinian citizens with plans to encourage Jewish Israelis to move to the Galilee. His “development” plan covered 104 communities – 100 of them Jewish.
Nonetheless, much of Peres’ political legacy – as heir to Ben-Gurion – is currently being discarded by Netanyahu and the Israeli right. They prefer the politics of confrontation – at home and abroad – over the back-slapping niceties of the diplomacy Peres excelled in.A few years ago, Peres described the Palestinians as “self-victimising.” He went on: “They victimise themselves. They are a victim of their own mistakes unnecessarily.”
3. Madame Aung San Suu Kyi (1991)
This is the most recent controversy. Aung San Suu Kyi won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her campaign for democracy in Burma. At the time, it wasn’t clear if she even knew she had won the prize: Suu Kyi had been placed under strict house arrest by the country’s military dictatorship, as she would be for a total of 15 years.
As of today, But more than 405,000 people have now signed a petition on Change.org demanding the Nobel Committee withdraw the award from Ms Suu Kyi, who has been widely accused of failing to protect Burma’s Rohingya population.
Thousands of houses and dozens of villages have been burned to the ground in Rakhine State, sending nearly 300,000 fleeing for their lives in a period of just two weeks. The Burmese military, which says it has been conducting clearance operations following attacks by Rohingya insurgents at the end of August, has denied any allegations of indiscriminate killing – blaming the insurgents for killing civilians. Ms Suu Kyi also blamed the violence on “terrorists” and claimed the controversy has been caused by “a huge iceberg of misinformation”.
4. Barack Obama or Barry O’Bomber (2009)
In a move called “a stunning surprise” by the New York Times, Barack Obama was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize only 12 days after he took office in 2009. When he actually won the prize only months into his first term in office, many accused the Nobel Peace Prize Committee of being politically motivated since the president was chosen to receive the award for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples,” rather than any concrete achievements.
At the time, America’s first black president said he didn’t deserve the award. President Obama’s was given the prize in 2009, “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” Later however, in the fight against terrorism, Obama has greatly stepped up the use of aerial drones without sufficient clarity about the legal framework for targeted killing. In places where the United States is involved in armed conflict — such as Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria — drones can reduce the danger of civilian casualties because they are exceptionally accurate, have a small blast radius, and can safely linger before firing until no or few civilians are nearby.
But the justification for their use is more fraught in countries such as Yemen and Somalia, where the United States has not considered itself in armed conflict. Official documents obtained by Reuters news agency showed government lawyers advised the US it might be considered a co-belligerent under international law.The Obama administration continued to authorise weapons sales to Saudi Arabia despite the warnings during the year before.
5. European Union (2012):For budget cuts and for the weapons they sell to other countries?
The Peace committee claimed EU deserved the award “for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.”
In 2012 the committee awarded the prize to the European Union, although the bloc was mired in recession and some of its members were involved in military interventions in North Africa and the Middle East especially France and the United Kingdom.
The award was also widely criticized because it came at a time when social rights were suffering greatly due to discord between member states resulting from economic crisis.
- The prize never awarded
The fact that Mahatma Gandhi never got the Nobel Peace Prize is considered one of the great blunders in the history of the Nobel Peace Prizes.
It’s hard to think of anyone in modern history who symbolizes non-violent struggle better than the Indian independence leader.Gandhi was nominated five times but never won.
Maybe soon this prize will go to Donald Trump and Kim-Jong Un probably for “peace and stability in the world”