Nobel Prize Controversy

When the Nobel Prize Laureates are announces it sometimes creates controversy. Most often it is The Nobel Peace Prize that creates the most controversy and there are a couple of reasons for this. We are reminded of all existing conflicts and inequalities. There is also different ideas about what Alfred Nobel meant with his will and how it should be interpreted. There is also controversy regarding who chooses the Laureates.  According to the will Nobel wanted the prize to be given to “those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind” and “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses”. Read full text of Alfred Nobel’s will.

Some of the Peace Prize Laureates from the couple of last years’ are Liu Xiaobo (2010), Barack Obama (2009) and Al Gore (2008) have been critized. Xiaobo for being oscure and unknown among the Chinese youth, Obama for getting too soon and not yet deserving of the Prize and Gore for his work with environmental questions cannot be related to a conflict.

Even the other Nobel Prizes create controversy. Just a couple of days ago a stem cell pioneer sued the Nobel committee for its statement why the Nobel Medicine Prizes is awarded Shinya Yamanaka of Japan and John Gurdon of Britain. There are even some Laureates who have declined the prize more or less because of their own will. In 1937 Adolf Hitler forbade German nationals to accept any Nobel Prizes because the Peace Prize was awarded Carl von Ossietzky, a German writer who openly critized Adolf Hitler. The ban affected three other German researchers. They did receive their certificate and medal later. You could also do what Jean Paul Sartre says has done: decline the prize because an author should not allow himself/herself become an institution. Nevertheless, he wanted to get the prize money. Or you could do what most of the Nobel laureates do: accept the prize as a recogonition of a lifetime achievement.

Text: Pieta Eklund