It's Nobel Prize season! This year, the Norwegian Nobel Committee gave the prize to a quartet of groups in Tunisia for "their tireless efforts to foster democracy in the nation that gave birth to the Arab Spring."
The Nobel Peace Prize awards those who "shall 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." Notable winners include obvious choices such as Martin Luther King Jr. (1964), the 14th Dalai Lama (1989), Nelson Mandela (1993), Desmond Tutu (1984), Aung San Suu Kyi (1991) and Mother Teresa (1979).
Here are some who are considered strong promoters of peace but were omitted from the list.
Perhaps the most famous modern nonviolent activist wasn't snubbed just once, but on several occasions. The man whose nonviolent efforts led to the independence of India was even nominated in 1947, a few days before he was assassinated. The Nobel committee not only failed to recognize Gandhi's peaceful efforts but also didn't give anyone an award that year, stating that "there was no suitable living candidate."
One of the winners this year, Kailash Satyarthi, was described as “maintaining Gandhi’s tradition” by holding “various forms of protests and demonstrations, all peaceful, focusing on the grave exploitation of children for financial gain" by the Nobel committee.
Pope John Paul II
He was the third-longest-serving pope in the 2,000 years of the Catholic Church, and during his tenure, he traveled to 129 countries, promoted religious tolerance and made unprecedented apologies for what he viewed as sins committed by the Church, including the lack of many Catholics speaking out against the Holocaust, and later in response to allegations of sexual abuse by priests. In 2000, he delivered this statement:
"We forgive and we ask forgiveness. We are asking pardon for the divisions among Christians, for the use of violence that some have committed in the service of truth, and for attitudes of mistrust and hostility assumed towards followers of other religions."
The pope also encouraged peaceful movements against communist governments, and a CNN report described him thus: "The most-traveled pope in the history of the Roman Catholic Church has stood firm against almost every military dictator or communist government he has confronted."
The man who believed in abolishing war, who created an organization founded with the mission of promoting peace, who was anti-imperialist and offered the Philippines $20 million of his own money so the country could buy its freedom from the United States was never awarded the peace prize. He was also said to be one of the "first to call for a 'league of nations.'" Despite his pacifist mentality, the leading industrialist's treatment toward his workers, especially during the Homestead Strikes, received heavy criticism.
The Russian journalist was known for her trailblazing reporting from Chechnya and for uncovering human rights abuses during the second Chechen War. Eight years ago, Politkovskaya was killed, and the person who ordered her death remains unknown.
This year, the newspaper she worked for, Novaya Gazeta, had generated buzz as a serious contender for the peace prize, but didn't win in the end.
John F. Kennedy
Okay, so he may have started the Vietnam War, but before that, JFK introduced a program that has spread goodwill around the world — the Peace Corps. Americans flocked to places worldwide and helped people in need at a grass-roots level. Although JFK never won the award, presidents such as Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Barack Obama have won the prize.
Note: This post has been updated with the latest Nobel peace prize winners.