And the nominees are…
“The whole of my remaining realisable estate shall be disposed of in the following way:…and one part to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations and the abolition or reduction of standing armies and the formation and spreading of peace congresses.”
In 2010 there was a record high number of people and organizations nominated for the prize. The Nobel Committee does not publish the list of nominees, but those who have nominated someone can promote their candidate if they desire. The Italian version of Wired Magazine nominated the internet for the Nobel Peace Prize. The nomination came in connection to the launce of the campaign Internet for Peace. The manifesto for the campaign includes the following statement;
“Digital culture has laid the foundations for a new kind of society. And this society is advancing dialogue, debate and consensus through communication. Because democracy has always flourished where there is openness, acceptance, discussion and participation. And contact with others has always been the most effective antidote against hatred and conflict. That’s why the Internet is a tool for peace.”
It does sound lovely, but I think the key word in this connection is tool. The internet is just a tool. It can be used to connect people, promote freedom of speech, or democracy. As a tool it can also be used for other purposes. It is not to be overlooked that the internet also facilitates criminal operations, such as hacking, various acts of fraud, and the spreading and distribution of illegal material like child pornography. We can all agree that these are crimes that should be prevented and resources have to be spent to do so. There is also a grey area of issues in connection with the internet. For instance, questions are being raised about the control the government in some countries have over the internet, both in regards to surveillance and censorship.
And the winner is…
Before the announcement of this year’s winner, the Chair of the Nobel Committee, Thorbjørn Jagland, claimed that the prize would be controversial. Many had already guessed the winner before it was announced on October 8th. The controversy was hence not connected to the winner, but the reaction in his native country, China. The winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2010 is Liu Xiaobo. Liu is a human rights activist and co-author of the Charter 08, a manifesto dedicated to political reform and democratization in China. He has taken part in many political movements the last 30 years, including the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. In December 2009 he was imprisoned, and is currently serving an 11 years sentence because of his work with Charter 08.
When the news of the winner was broadcasted, the channels of both CNN and BBC went black in China. Channels are also blocked when mentioning anything in relation to the Nobel Prize. The Chinese media did not report about the Nobel Peace Prize at all the first few days after the winner was announced. Later reports were in many cases in connection to the official statement from the foreign ministry saying that;
“The Nobel Peace Prize should be awarded to people who contribute to national harmony, country-to-country friendship, advancing disarmament, and convening and propagandizing peace conferences. Liu was a criminal sentenced by the Chinese judicial authorities for violating Chinese law… The Nobel committee’s decision to award such a person the peace prize runs contrary to and desecrates the prize.”
It has also been reported that SMS messages including words such as Liu Xiaobo and Nobel has been blocked. Microblogging websites have also been censored. This certainly underscores the fact that freedom of speech is restricted, as stressed many times by Liu. It makes it all too evident that technology can be used to limit people.
Unknown. (2010). News blackout on Liu Xiaobo’s Nobel Peace Prize. Last accessed 21th Oct 2010.
Lofstad, Ralf. (2010). Blasfemi mot Fredsprisen. Last accessed 21th Oct 2010.