Date
16 August 2018
Apart from academics, lawmakers from around the world and cabinet members of ministerial levels of any sovereign state are eligible to nominate candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize. Photo: nobelprize.org
Apart from academics, lawmakers from around the world and cabinet members of ministerial levels of any sovereign state are eligible to nominate candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize. Photo: nobelprize.org

Debunking a myth about the Nobel Peace Prize

Following the nomination of Hong Kong activists Joshua Wong Chi-fung, Nathan Law Kwun-chung and Alex Chow Yong-kang for the Nobel Peace Prize earlier this month by some US Congressmen, I have been frequently asked by my media friends about my views on the matter.

To be honest, the nomination isn’t any “news” to me. I already talked about such possibility a few years ago, since it just perfectly fits the pattern of nominees for the prize, which has become increasingly politicized in recent years.

But that is another story. In this article I would like to focus on the threshold for nominating a person for the Nobel Peace Prize.

I have read some local media reports about the issue which said the threshold for nominating someone for the Nobel Peace Prize is very high, i.e. only the elites and the privileged few in society are eligible to nominate a person for the prize.

However, I feel compelled to point out here that this is actually not true. In fact, contrary to the popular myth, the actual threshold for nominating someone for the Nobel Peace Prize is much lower than many people think.

According to the official website of the Nobel Peace Prize committee, any associate professor, professor or emeritus professor of any officially recognized university around the world whose specialty is related to “the study of peace”, i.e. history, social science, law, philosophy, theology, religion, etc, is eligible to nominate whoever he or she wants for the prize.

Also eligible to make nominations are directors of research institutes on peace and foreign policy around the world.

That means, even I am eligible to nominate anybody I want for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Apart from academics, lawmakers from around the world and cabinet members of ministerial levels of any sovereign state are eligible to nominate others for the prize.

However, it is important to note that “lawmakers” here only refer to members of the central or federal legislature of a sovereign state, such as the US Congress or the British Parliament, while lawmakers of local legislatures aren’t qualified to make any nomination according to the current mechanism.

Therefore, as Hong Kong isn’t a sovereign state, our Legislative Councillors aren’t eligible to make nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Nevertheless, our city’s representatives to the National People’s Congress (NPC) are perfectly qualified to nominate others for the prize since the NPC is the central legislature of the People’s Republic of China.

As such, pro-establishment political figures like Michael Tien Puk-sun and Tam Yiu-chung are eligible to nominate whoever they like for the prize, under the existing rules.

Yet as far as the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) is concerned, it remains unclear whether its members are also eligible to make nominations for the prize since it is largely an advisory body only, even though some western academics have regarded the CPPCC as China’s equivalent of the British House of Lords.

In other words, Hong Kong members of the NPC can actually attempt to embarrass the US government by nominating, together with a few other university professors specializing in international relations, Edward Snowden for the Nobel Peace Prize. Or they can even nominate CY Leung or Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor if they want to.

There are currently 100 US Senators and 435 House members in Washington. Over the years it has already become a common practice for them to nominate people from across the world for the Nobel Peace Prize in order to advance their own political agendas on issues such as human rights in Cuba, labor rights or women’s rights.

From the point of view of these US politicians, making Nobel Peace Prize nominations is an easy and handy way to make a political statement or gain national spotlight. Above all, it doesn’t incur any political cost or risk, so why not utilize it to the full?

As I have already discussed in some of my previous articles, the Hong Kong issue has already secured its place on the agenda of some prominent US politicians such as Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who, along with some others, are eagerly playing the “Hong Kong card” to serve their own political purposes.

While it is almost impossible for the US government or the Congress to speak up unequivocally for the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong due to diplomatic concerns, things for individual lawmakers like Rubio are a lot simpler.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb 6

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

– Contact us at [email protected]

RC

Associate professor and director of Global Studies Programme, Faculty of Social Science, at the Chinese University of Hong Kong; Lead Writer (Global) at the Hong Kong Economic Journal

EJI Weekly Newsletter

Please click here to unsubscribe