AP | Feb 24, 2006
Oslo, Feb. 24 (AP): A near-record 191 Nobel Peace Prize nominations were made for 2006, including a Finnish peace mediator, Indonesia's President, two Irish rock stars and a former U.S. secretary of state.
The five-member Norwegian awards committee keeps the nomination list secret for 50 years and will only give the number: this year, 168 individuals and 23 organizations. The committee gives no hints, but those who make the nominations sometimes announce their choice.
``That is the second highest number of nominations ever,' the committee's nonvoting Secretary Geir Lundestad, said on Friday. ``We can't have a record every year, but it does indicate strong interest.'
Last year, the International Atomic Energy Agency and its leader, Mohamed ElBaradei, were picked from a record 199 nomination for their efforts to save humanity from nuclear weapons. Thousands of people have the right to send nominations rights, which must be postmarked by Feb. 1.
This year, announced nominees include former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, _ for helping to secure a peace deal in the Aceh conflict. Both were seen as front runners in earlier speculation.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, was nominated for his effort to end Sudan's civil war.
Bob Geldof, former leader of the Irish punk group the Boomtown Rats, was nominated for organizing last year's Live 8 benefit concerts, while another Irish singer, U2 frontman Bono, was proposed for his efforts to relieve poverty.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, and longtime Iran investigator Kenneth R. Timmerman, were nominated by a Swedish lawmaker.
Jeff Halper, an Israeli Jew, and Ghassan Andoni, a Palestinian Christian from the occupied Palestinian territories, were nominated by the American Friends Service Committee.
Other announced nominees include former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Indian scholar Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Israeli nuclear whistle blower Mordechai Vanunu, Austria's SOS Children's Villages, former Illinois governor and death penalty opponent George Ryan, and Indian anti-child labour campaigner Kailash Satyarthi.
Likely, but not confirmed, nominations are believed to include the movement Thousand Women for the Nobel Peace Prize 2006, American entertainer Oprah Winfrey, dissident Buddhist monk Thich Quang Do from Vietnam, Chinese Muslim activist Rebiya Kadeer, Russian human rights activist Lida Yusupova, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Iraqi Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani as well as the groups Save the Children, Oxfam and the Salvation Army.
Nobel statutes permit nominations by previous Nobel peace laureates; current and former members of the committee and their staff; members of national governments and legislatures; university professors of law, theology, social sciences, history and philosophy; leaders of peace research and foreign affairs institutes and members of international courts of law.
Lundestad said it is easy to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, but that a nomination cannot be seen as an endorsement from the committee.
``Thousands of people have nomination rights. Most don't even know it,' he said. ``The surprising thing is that there are largely good nominations, without many that are not serious.'
He said nominations came from all over the world, including from countries making first-time submissions.
The award is always presented on Dec. 10, the anniversary of the death of its founder, Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel. The peace prize is awarded in Oslo, and the other Nobel Prizes are presented in the Swedish capital, Stockholm.