"Peaceful" is not a word historians are going to use to describe 2022—and while there's a lot of speculation about who will win this year's Nobel Peace Prize, at least one analyst thinks the committee might choose not to award the prize this year for the first time since 1972. "Nobody can claim to have made any great breakthroughs in the field of peace, the conflicts seem never-ending, and treaties seem to be there to be violated," Sverre Lodgaard, researcher at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, tells AFP. In the prize's 121-year history, there have been 19 years in which it wasn't awarded, nine of them during World I and World War II.
If the prize is awarded, the war in Ukraine is likely to be a major consideration, despite the fact that nominations closed on Jan. 31, weeks before the Russian invasion, the Washington Post reports. Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov, one of last year's two winners, sold his medal for $103 million in June and donated the proceeds to help Ukrainian refugees. The Peace Research Institute of Oslo says a possible Russian winner this year is imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Belarus opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya is also on the institute's shortlist, as are Hong Kong pro-democracy activists Agnes Chow and Nathan Law; Indian human rights activist Harsh Mander; and the International Court of Justice.
The full list of 343 nominees is top secret, though Reuters reported earlier this year that nominees disclosed by Norwegian lawmakers include climate activist Greta Thunberg, Pope Francis, the World Health Organization, and the Myanmar National Unity Government set up by opponents to military rule. Tuvalu Foreign Minister Simon Kofe, whose country is threatened by climate change, is also a contender. AFP reports that bookies' favorites include Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, though Peace Research Institute director Henrik Urdal has his doubts. "The committee would likely be extremely careful about giving the prize to a president at war," Urdal says, "even if Ukraine is at the receiving end of this war and hasn't deserved it." (Read more Nobel Peace Prize stories.)