Other Peace & Human Rights Prizes
Because the vagueness of Alfred Nobel’s will has allowed a broad range of candidates, people have wanted other peace prizes with more well-defined guidelines for winners. Another frustration with the Nobel has been the nomination process: Per Nobel’s will the only people who can nominate candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize are: 1) Members of national legislatures (e.g., the U.S. Congress; the Parliament of the U.K.) or governments. 2) Members of international courts. 3) University rectors; university professors of social sciences, history, philosophy, law, and theology; directors of peace research institutes and foreign policy institutes. 4) Persons who have previously been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. 5) Members of boards of organizations that have won the Nobel Peace Prize. 6) Active and former members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee. 7) Former Advisors appointed by the Norwegian Nobel Institute. All decisions of the 5 member Nobel Committee are final and the papers and deliberations of the committee are sealed for 25 years before being opened to historians (so it takes awhile to learn who else was considered and lost, what the reasoning was, etc.).
Here are some of the alternatives to the Nobel Peace Prize that have developed over the years. Again, because of the age of the Nobel and the size of its prize money, it is unlikely that other prizes will eclipse its prestige in the foreseeable future.
- The Albert Einstein Peace Prize, awarded annually by the Chicago-Based Albert Einstein Peace Foundation.
- The Bruno Kreisky Award is a bienniel award for human rights work created in 1976 on the 65th birthday of Bruno Kreisky. Prizewinners chosen by a panel of international judges.
- The Carl von Osseitzky Medal is awarded annually by the German-based International League for Human Rights. Osseitzky was a Jewish journalist who was imprisoned and killed by the Nazis before WWII and the Holocaust proper began. Osseitzky himself was a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, though his captivity kept him from traveling to Oslo to receive the prize.
- The Pacem im Terris Award has been awarded annually since 1964 in commemoration of Pope John XXIII’s encyclical, Pacem im Terris. The Prize was created by the Davenport Catholic Interracial Council of the Diocese of Davenport, Iowa.
- The Thomas Merton Award, named after the late Trappist monk and Catholic peace theologian, was founded in 1972 by the Thomas Merton Center for Peace and Justice in Pittsburgh, PA.
- The Sydney Peace Prize, is awarded by the Sydney Peace Foundation, a non-profit associated with the University of Sydney, Australia.
- The UNESCO Prize for Peace Education was founded in 1980 by UNESCO, the United Nations’ Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, and is awarded to those who work to teach peace in ways consistent with the UN Charter.
- The U.S. branch of the Fellowship of Reconciliation has established two peace prizes: The International Pfeffer Peace Prize was established in 1989 by Leo and Freda Pfeffer (longtime FOR members–Pfeffer was a distinguished jurist and professor of law and acknowledged expert in church-state relations) to honor people around the world who commit their lives to nonviolence and peace work–often in ways overlooked. In 1979, the FOR established the Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace Prize to honor those in the U.S. who work for justice and peace according to the nonviolent pattern and principles of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., himself an FOR member.
- The Dahlberg Peace Award was created by the American Baptist Churches, USA in 1964 to honor the life and work of Rev. Edwin T. Dahlberg (1890-1986), an American Baptist minister and pacifist who at one time was president of the ABC and of the National Council of Churches. The first recipient was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
- The Pax Christi USA Teachers of Peace Award, was established by Pax Christi, USA in 1978 to honor those who fulfill Pope Paul VI’s slogan, “to reach peace, teach peace.” All recipients have been Catholics and most Pax Christi members.
- Letelier-Moffit Human Rights Awards are given by the Institute for Policy Studies (which bills itself as the “think tank for the rest of us”) to honor two IPS workers who were assassinated in D.C. by members of the Pinochet dictatorship of Chile, according to the FBI investigation. The Letelier-Moffit Award is given annually by the IPS to celebrate heroes of nonviolent struggle for human rights in the Americas.
- The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award was established in 1984 by Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, RFK’s oldest child and is administered by the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights.
- The War Resisters’ League Peace Award is intended to honor persons and organizations who best embody the WRL’s radical platform of nonviolent action for peace. It was first awarded in 1958 to U.S. Congresswoman Jeanette Rankin (R-MT), the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress and the only U.S. Congressperson to vote against U.S. entry into BOTH World Wars. Other recipients have included Dorothy Day, A. J. Muste, Christian Peacemaker Teams, Bayard Rustin, Barbra Deming, Fr. Daniel Berrigan, S.J., Dave Dellinger, Bob Moses, Sept. 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, and Fernando Suarez del Solar of Military Families Speak Out. The 2007 Award will go to the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition (TASSC) International for their work in resisting torture and defending human rights. (TASSC was founded by Sr. Diana Ortiz of Louisville, KY who, while doing missionary work in Guatemala in the ’80s was captured and tortured by people from the Guatemalan military government, supervised by a man who said he was CIA and claimed to report directly to Pres. Reagan. Sr. Ortiz’s torture included repeated rapes. Don’t tell her the U.S. never tortures!)
- From Jonathan Marlowe: The World Methodist Peace Award has been presented every year since 1976 by the World Methodist Council to a person or group in recognition of courage, creativity, and consistency in the service of peacemaking, justice and reconciliation, and positive social change. Past winners include Jimmy Carter, Nelson Mandella, Kofi Annan, Elias Chacour, Millard Fuller, Boris Trajkovski, and others. About half the winners have been Methodists, and half have not. At least one was not even a Christian. Read about them here.
There are many other peace and human rights prizes around the world. Some I didn’t list here because there websites were not in a language I read or because I simply didn’t know about them. Please send me info. about other alternative peace prizes. I have long argued that the World Council of Churches should award an annual peace prize, open to anyone of any faith, but awarded on strictly Christian criteria such as found in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7). (If Christians became embarrassed by awards going to more non-Christians, maybe they would start taking Jesus seriously!)
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