Friday, October 19, 2012


As occurs every year, on the mid-October day of the announcement of the 2012 Nobel Prize for Peace, audible speculation occurs around the globe. Who will it be? Who would be called out as the exemplary manifestation of all that the concept of peace represents. Who, or what? And why?

How does one decide? How does one possibly identify a single individual or entity that can be praised for peace?

Since 1901, on an annual basis this question has been posed by the Norwegian Nobel Committee as they judge nominations from across the globe for those deemed to have "done the most or the best work for the fraternity between nations." (

The winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize for Peace, announced on October 12th, was in the end more reason for pause and appreciation than actual celebration. 

Why? Because the winner - the European Union - acts as a powerful reminder of what so many across the globe have forgotten - that peace is a process of continuous commitment and effort, not an assumption.

As eloquently expressed by CNN's Jonathan Mann, who has covered the Nobel Peace Prize for 17 years, when asked in an interview minutes after the announcement by the Nobel Committee what the Nobel Committee was thinking when awarding the EU the prize for peace? 


60 years of peace through tireless efforts for unification across European nations.

In these times of aggressive economic, social and political change, times that see:
  • a young Pakistani girl fighting for her life as a result of a gunshot wound to punish her for her quest to allow girls to be educated;
  • the endless horror as Syria's leaders seemingly defy all sense of civility against its own people, sending refugees fleeing to neighbouring nations facing their own challenges;
  • two powerful Asian nations flexing their political muscles and verbal threats of war over one disputed island; 
  • iconic sports heroes falling from well engineered and embedded pedestals; 
  • presidential candidates in the US intellectually fighting it out in town hall debates and investing an estimated US$ 2 billion in the quest to secure the nomination for president of the United States of America in 2013,
the connections of our world today - Damascus a mere 9187 km away from Washington DC where global Ambassadors to the UN struggle to secure a lasting peace, Karachi a mere 8499 km from Birmingham where young Malala now fights for her life, Senkaku island and Diaoyu island the exact same coordinates - often reveal the sadness of how far apart we can be, despite being just a flight, boat trip, or thought away. Hot spots remain, fear remains. the risk of life being taken, unjustly, unfairly, and unexpectedly, remain.

And yet, through the noise, peace is able to prevail. 

Because of efforts - often intense efforts - to sustain prevent outbreak of war during times of potential clashes within or across borders, as a result of economic crisis, lack of natural resources, political clashes or other threats to stability of psyche and nations, billions are able to look on, safe and secure in their corners of the world, viewing conflict through the screen of a television, computer or mobile phone.  

In many parts of the world peace, living within a peaceful society, has become an assumption. 

Such is the case in the EU.
As expressed in the official announcement of winner of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize:

"The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2012 is to be awarded to the European Union (EU). The union and its forerunners have for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe. 

"The EU is currently undergoing grave economic difficulties and considerable social unrest. The Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to focus on what it sees as the EU's most important result: the successful struggle for peace and reconciliation and for democracy and human rights. The stabilizing part played by the EU has helped to transform most of Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace. 

The work of the EU represents "fraternity between nations", and amounts to a form of the "peace congresses" to which Alfred Nobel refers as criteria for the Peace Prize in his 1895 will."

The Nobel Peace Prize has always been awarded on the basis of the bigger picture. Standing back, looking at the world map as it appears today, there are clear, constant conflict zones which continue to ache. And then there are those that, through a shared quest for peace, remain connected as communities.

 As was expressed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu during different times yet with enduring sentiment: "When God looks at ---, he shakes his head and cries. And then he looks at (the EU), and he smiles..."

During these ever-changing times - times of crisis at natural, political, economic, environmental and social levels - 'peace' should be seen and appreciated as a verb, not a noun. 

And a blessing to be able to feel when we shut our eyes at bedtime.

Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2012


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