Why Black Lives Matter Won The Nobel Peace Prize Would Be A “Courageous Decision”
After a year that has seen protests spread across the world and galvanize the movement against racial injustice, Black Lives Matter is among the contenders for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.
Petter Eide, the Norwegian lawmaker who nominated Black Lives Matter for the award, said he would be thrilled, but surprised, with a win.
Awarding the prestigious award to Black Lives Matter would be “very controversial”, he said News week. “It would be a very, very courageous decision” on the part of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, he said. They “will get a lot of criticism, but they are used to it.”
A total of 329 candidates are in the running for the prestigious 2021 award: 234 are individuals and 95 are organizations. The Nobel secret committee keeps the names locked in a safe for 50 years, although the nominees and the people behind the nominations can make them public sooner.
The winner is expected to be announced on Friday, kicking off speculation on who will receive the highest honor.
Bookies have the World Health Organization as the most likely winner for 2021 for its work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Black Lives Matter had a better chance of winning the award than former President Donald Trump and Russian leader Vladimir Putin. But other top picks include: climate activist Greta Thunberg, voting rights activist Stacey Abrams, New Zealand people’s leader Jacinda Ardern, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and Nathan Law Kwun-chung, a leading figure in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.
Eide believes the violence that erupted during some protests that took place following the murder of George Floyd by police last summer could hamper Black Lives Matter’s chances of winning the Peace Prize. “My point when I named them is that you have to distinguish between what BLM is organizing and violent riots,” he said.
But he noted that the Nobel committee has a tradition of linking anti-racist movements and peace. “Going back 55 years, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. received the Peace Prize, I think exactly the same arguments were made against him at the time. Some groups called him a terrorist.
Henrik Urdal, director of the Peace Research Institute in Oslo, believes Black Lives Matter could win the award “in principle”, but agreed there were certain issues the committee should tackle.
“The committee is particularly focused on whether social movements are non-violent or not,” he said. News week. “Of course there has been a bit of turmoil throughout some of the BLM protests.”
When Eide appointed Black Lives Matter, he said he felt his call for systemic change had spread far beyond the United States and forced other nations to “tackle the racism within. of their own societies “.
He came after protests against police brutality and racial injustice that began in Minneapolis after Floyd’s murder quickly spread to the United States and then around the world, momentarily diverting the spotlight from the COVID-19 pandemic .
But since the Nobel Prize nominations closed at the end of February, the panel of five judges has been reflecting on a time when these questions are no longer making the headlines.
Eide argued that this could be of benefit to Black Lives Matter, saying the panel’s judgment is “more academic and systematic.”
“Maybe it could even boost the odds, I would say, because a lot of the headlines were, of course, related to the riots,” he said.
He said it was “extremely important” to recognize groups fighting against racial injustice. “And not just in the United States, but the movement has spread around the world … that’s why I named them,” he added.
But Urdal noted that in recent years the committee has also demonstrated its efforts to make the prize a truly global prize. If the committee were to recognize the fight against racism and inequity, he said it might want to look at it in a broader context.
“Of course, these kinds of challenges exist all over the world,” he said, pointing to the social movements that have taken place in countries like India and Nigeria.
Urdal, who correctly predicted previous winners, says the committee may be inclined to recognize press freedom groups, climate activists, or those who have led nonviolent protests against autocratic regimes.
Among her choices are Reporters Without Borders for an award focused on “the importance of independent reporting and press freedom in the face of extreme risks” and Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who led non-violent protests in Belarus after President Alexander Lukashenko won what was considered a rigged election.
Eide says the prize is expected to go to an organization tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. But he added that even without a win, he thinks Black Lives Matter sees the award nomination as an important victory in and of itself.
Black Lives Matter declined to comment. But co-founder Patrisse Cullors said News week in February that the movement was “more dynamic than ever” after the nomination. “We are honored that the movement is recognized and are more motivated than ever to continue fighting for the lives of black people,” she said.