On December 10, 2010, the 109th Nobel Prize Award ceremony will take place in Stolkholm, Sweden and Oslo, Norway. As the world watches, the most notable men and women in the areas of Chemistry, Physics, Medicine/Physiology, Economics and Literature will receive the most prestigious honor in the known universe. As part of Alfred Nobel’s continuing legacy to the world, Nobel Prize nominations are carefully considered and ultimately announced in early Fall of each year. While September is a bit early for the formal announcements, some of the potential laureates are already known.
The Nomination Process
Compared to other prestigious awards, the Nobel Prize nomination and selection process is quite lengthy and arduous. To start, members are elected to the selection committees which will consider the candidates for the Prizes in Chemistry, Physics, Medicine/Physiology, Economics, Literature and Peace. Numerous experts in the various fields are invited to nominate individuals. Those with nomination rights include selected university professors, former peace laureates, and members of national governments and legislatures. The process is very secret and the committee screens the nominations, and ultimately a list of thousands becomes hundreds. The preliminary list of candidates is then considered by experts in the relevant field as a result the list of hundreds becomes a list of about fifteen. From this list, recommendations are made and the final winner is determined by a vote.
For 2010, 237 names, including 38 organizations, were submitted for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize alone, and it is reported that the different prize committees received the highest number of nominations in its history. The official list of nominees will be announced in mid-October 2010.
The Unofficial List for 2010
The fiercely secretive Norwegian Nobel Committee refuses to name candidates, but nominators sometimes announce their picks. Earlier in 2010, names of some nominees made it into the press. As it standards, Russian activists, six Chinese Dissidents, the Internet and even a Russian human rights group are included in the cast of nominees.
Svetlana Gannushkina and Memorial
2010 Nomination news has revealed nomination for Russian activists and human rights organizations for Svetlana Gannushkina and the Human Rights Centre Memorial (Memorial.) Gannushkina, a mathematician by training started her human rights work in the late 1980s during the break-up of the Soviet Union. Early on she arranged support for refugees. By the 1990s, she helped to establish the NGO Citizen’s Assistance (Grazhdanskoe Sodeistvie). Following its creation, the Citizen’s Assistance campaigned for human rights protections and the integration of refugees, migrants and other displaced people into Russian society. Citizen’s Assistance lobbied for citizens and refugee rights. Eventually, Svetlana Gannushkina would help found Memorial.
Memorial began as an organization which educated people about the importance and significance of human rights. For almost two decades, the association began to protest brutality against political prisoners and worked diligently to protect refugees and victims of discrimination.
While the newswires are lit up regarding the Peace Prize nominations, there are other disciplines that have leaked information. While British writer J. K. Rowling did not get a nomination, another children’s book novelist did, Chechen writer Kant Ibragimov did. Kant’s work, Children’s World, received the Literature nomination for this year. While Children’s World is the name of Russian chain stores selling goods for children in Kant’s work, it is also a world of fairytales, beauty and dreams which is destroyed and causes the books young hero to go on a quest.
There has been much buzz on the world wide web about a Peace Prize nomination backed Wire Magazine and 2003 Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi of the Internet. While many think the Nobel Prize should be given to people or organizations, giving the prize to a nebulous and inanimate object may be a bit much. Nonetheless, the vehicle which gives us YouTube, Facebook and Google has received a nomination. While the nomination of the Internet itself has been controversial, nominations for the web’s creators, which include Larry Roberts, Vint Cerf and Tim Berners-Lee, were also received.
While the names of Liu, Hu, Chen, Gao, Bao, and Rebiya Kadeer are not known to some of us, for the 1.3 billion people in China, they are all respected. Each was nominated for their stand against China’s human rights, personal freedoms, and political policies.
Lius Xiabo, the founder of Chapter 08, is the most famous dissident in China today. He stands arrested for inciting to subvert the government because of his views of the lack of Chinese human rights.
Hu Jia, an HIV/AIDS rights activist and winner of the 2009 Sakharov Prize, has been instrumental in exposing AIDS related scandals as well as speaking out on his country’s position on Tibet and democracy.
Chen Guangcheng, a blind activist, has gained international recognition for the human rights conditions in rural China. He also stands as a representative of the limitations placed on the disabled people of his country and stood against China’s one-child policy, which prompted women to get unwanted abortions and sterilization.
Gao Zhisheng, one of the biggest human rights attorneys in China, has stood as the legal defender of many fellow activists and religious minorities in his homeland. While his present whereabouts are unknown, Gao’s works prompted him to renounce the Communist Party.
The final two are Bao Tong and Rebiya Kadeer. Bao Tong, once aide to Zhao Ziyang, is a reformist sympathizer and who continues to speak out against his government’s policies on democracy. Rebiya Kadeer, exiled in the United States, is the leader of the World Uighur Congress, which advocates for peace and rights for the people of East Turkestan and abroad.
News about the Chemistry, Economics and Medicine Prize nominees are harder to find. The Internet reveals information on nominees, such as Nestor Amarilla, who received a Literature nomination for his work Fecha Feliz. University of Georgia’s Physics Professor M. Howard Lee has been nominated for the Physics Prize for his invention of the recurrence relations method and the techniques application to the theory of the ergodic hypothesis. There was even a campaign to consider the late Pop Star Michael Jackson.
The Nobel Prizes remain the most prestigious awards in the world. Come December 10, 2010, the world will know this year’s winners. However, as cold autumn months approach, more news about nominees will surface.