Why Vladimir Putin’s Nobel Peace Prize Nomination Doesn’t Mean Much


Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin

A group of Russian activists announced Tuesday that they had nominated Russian President Vladimir Putin for a Nobel Peace Prize, citing his work to avert a United States strike on Syria. But while the Putin aficionados have attracted global attention for this nomination, a review of previous nominees and the Nobel Foundation’s nominating process suggests merely being nominated for the prestigious award is not difficult.

Putin’s nomination was filed by Beslan Kobakhiya, head of the Russian-based International Academy of Spiritual Unity and Cooperation of Peoples of the World. Members of his group argued at the press conference that Putin, the man behind wars in Chechnya and Georgia, was more deserving of the award that 2009 winner Barack Obama.

While the names of nominees are kept secret by the committee for 50 years, Putin joins a rather mixed list. Certainly, previous nominees have included laureates like Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, and Aung San Suu Kyi, unsuccessful nominations were also made for Joseph Stalin, Czar Nicolai II, and even Adolf Hitler.

According to the organization’s website, the Norweigian Nobel Committee will accept nominations from:

  • Members of national assemblies and governments of states,
  • Members of international courts,
  • University rectors; professors of social sciences, history, philosophy, law and theology; directors of peace research institutes and foreign policy institutes,
  • Persons who have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize,
  • Board members of organizations that have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize,
  • Active and former members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, and
  • Former advisers to the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

Under those rules, any member of any government and virtually any academic can nominate anyone they choose. This means that should a member of the Syrian government — which stands accused of using chemical weapons against its own people — place President Bashar al-Assad’s name in for consideration, the Nobel Committee will have to accept it. Likewise, had the Afghan government under the Taliban recommended Osama bin Laden, he would have been a Nobel Peace Prize nominee. It does not, of course, mean the names received will receive serious consideration.