Let’s say right up front that it is, at the very least, tacky to set odds on who will win the Nobel Peace Prize. We’re not talking about the Oscar for best actor here. It is also presumptuous to try to read the minds of the committee members who decide what person or group is deserving of the prestigious award each year.
Of course, that did not stop oddsmakers in London and Las Vegas from publicizing their lists of most likely Peace Prize winners, from a list of 331 nominees no less. Nor did it stop news organizations from publishing those odds. Such are the times.
Fortunately, as often happens, the oddsmakers got it wrong this year. Neither Kim Jong Un nor Donald Trump, alone or in some combination, received the award, despite campaigns in some quarters to convince Nobel voters that ending a childish Twitter contest on who could provoke more fear in the world of a nuclear war and staging a summit in Singapore that was big on promise, short on delivery, was worthy of Nobel recognition.
The Nobel panel apparently felt that Trump acting as if he knew what he was doing and Kim promising yet again to not do what he always keeps on doing was not enough. The Nobel voters may also have noticed that, under Kim, North Korea continues to torture and imprison critics of the regime and that many North Koreans are starving, although they are protected with nuclear weapons.
As for Trump, the committee may have felt that since the award is presented to whomever does the most to promote world peace, a U.S. leader who cozies up to dictators, insults the United Nations and other organizations dedicated to a peaceful world, tears up a nuclear treaty with Iran and starts a worldwide trade war may not have grasped the concept of the award. Saying he now “loves” Kim is apparently not enough. But that’s just us trying to read the panelists’ minds.
Instead of the two “favorites,” the Peace Prize was awarded to two individuals who have dedicated their lives to ending a little-reported but all-too-common atrocity of war — using sexual violence as a weapon. The recipients are:
• Nadia Murad, a young Iraqi woman who was abducted by the Islamic State, sold as a sex slave and abused by her kidnappers. She escaped and has become an outspoken spokesperson for victims of rape in war worldwide.
• Dennis Mukwege, a surgeon, who has treated thousands of victims of the never-ending war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, labeled “the rape capital of the world.” He has not only treated victims, but been outspoken in advocating for them, even at the risk of his life. The Nobel committee called him the most “unifying symbol, both nationally and internationally, of the struggle to end sexual violence in war and armed conflicts.”
In a year that has seen women worldwide begin to speak out about sexual assault of every kind, the Nobel panel, against the odds, has given two courageous people a prestigious platform to advocate for an end to this most brutal form of it.