President Trump scored a nomination. So did Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
That's right. The leaders of the United States and Russia, respectively, were nominated for the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize. The winner will be announced by the Norwegian Nobel Committee on Friday.
Getting nominated isn't actually very prestigious. Qualified nominators can throw anyone's name into the ring, and they do. In years past, Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin both received a nod.
Of course, Trump and Putin are very long shots. The Peace Research Institute Oslo, an independent foundation, puts together its own shortlist of much more valid contenders. Here are some of their best guesses for who might win this year:
Mohammad Javad Zarif and Federica Mogherini: Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Mogherini negotiated the Iran nuclear deal. As PRIO wrote, “the peaceful and successful resolution of the Iran nuclear dispute . . . would be a worthy and notable winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.” Something else working in their favor: The committee may well want to reaffirm the value of the deal at a time when President Trump is considering pulling out of it.
Filippo Grandi: The United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees had a big year. His organization took on an unprecedented refugee crisis across Europe and the Middle East. There are more than 65 million people in the world who are forcibly displaced; over 22 million of whom are refugees. At the same time, European countries and the United States are growing less and less willing to take them in. "In this situation, the Office of the UNHCR has shown its capacity and integrity in standing up for refugees’ rights and needs time and time again," PRIO wrote.
Cumhuriyet and Can Dündar: Cumhuriyet editor and columnist Dündar was arrested this year and jailed on charges of disclosing state secrets and aiding a terrorist group. He moved to Germany after being found guilty. Dündar has become the face of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s vicious crackdown on free press and civil liberties. “Cumhuriyet has been renowned for its impartial reporting and fearlessness in criticizing the authorities,” PRIO wrote. “This September, no fewer than 17 of Cumhuriyet’s employees stand trial for various charges of being complicit in terrorism.”
The Economic Community of West African States: ECOWAS played a vital role in the political transition in Gambia, which was seen as a victory for African democracy. More broadly, the group exemplifies “how increased political and economic interaction contributes to ensuring long-term regional stability,” PRIO wrote. The bloc has organized several successful peacekeeping missions.
The White Helmets and Raed al Saleh: In some ways, the White Helmets/Syrian Civil Defence is an ideal contender for the Peace Prize. The civilian group in Syria, led by Saleh, has been credited with saving lives and easing suffering during a brutal, years-long war. “A prize to the White Helmets would not be a prize only for humanitarian efforts, it would also draw attention to the remarkable — yet rarely celebrated — resilient forces of societies hit by armed conflict,” PRIO wrote. The organization is controversial, though. Allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have accused the group of being a creation of the West and suggested that they work with extremists.
Other possibilities floating across the Internet include:
British odds-makers say Pope Francis is favored to win the honor for his unflinching advocacy of migrants and refugees, along with his efforts to halt climate change. Angela Merkel could also have a shot. The German chancellor welcomed more than 1 million refugees into her country in 2015, despite sustained opposition. Merkel has also been a steady voice for international cooperation, making the case again and again for the European Union. The Washington Post's Fred Hiatt has called on the committee to “infuriate China” by awarding the prize to democracy activist Liu Xia, the widow of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo. Liu Xiaobo died in July while serving a 11-year prison sentence for “subversion of state power” after helping to write and circulate a call for democratic and human rights reforms. Liu Xia was confined to house arrest by the Chinese government in 2010 after her husband won his Nobel Prize, though she has never been charged with a crime. Liu Xia is a courageous figure in her own right, a poet and photographer. As she left a courthouse in 2013 where her brother was on trial, she shouted to reporters, “I am not free. If they tell you I’m free, tell them I’m not free.”
The Guardian has suggested the American Civil Liberties Union could walk away with the prize for its efforts against several decisions by President Trump's administration. The publication also lists Raif Badawi, a Saudi blogger who's been in prison since 2012. “His victory, after repeated nominations, would be for courage, rationalism and freedom of speech — and an implicit criticism of a brutally repressive regime,” the paper wrote.