Ukraine’s President has become the bookmaker’s favorite to be announced as the winner of the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize due to be announced on Friday, Oct. 6 but other public names are in the running.

The bookmakers and experts think that the war in Ukraine must be in the forethoughts of the five members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee which would make NATO's secretary general and Ukraine’s president as favorites, with Russian dissident Alexei Navalny or jailed Uighur activist Ilham Tohti considered the “dark horses” among the front-runners.

Though bookmakers have Zelensky and NATO’s Jens Stoltenberg as the clear favorites to join the illustrious list of peace prize laureates that include Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, there are doubts that a wartime leader will be named.

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Others dismiss the chances of Navalny because Russian dissidents won in 2021, by Dmitry Muratov founder of the Novaya Gazeta newspaper, and Ales Bialiatski the Belarusian advocate for the Russian human rights organization Memorial and the Ukrainian Center for Civil Liberties in 2022.

Other Nobel-watchers think that if Tohti were to win, it would infuriate China. When jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo won the 2010 peace prize, Beijing froze diplomatic relations with Oslo for six years.

The consensus among many is that it would be the time for an environmental activist such as Sweden’s Greta Thunberg or Uganda’s Vanessa Nakate to be acknowledged; others favor campaigners for women’s rights like Iran’s Masih Alinejad or those championing Indigenous people’s rights including Jani Silva “for her dedication in protecting the Amazon and social work in the Putumayo community.”

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Zelensky drew parallels to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, which led to years of conflict and eventual US involvement.

The Nobel Prize website says that the 2023 peace prize has 351 nominations; 259 are individuals and 92 are organizations. This is apparently the second highest number since 376 candidates in 2016 and the eighth year in a row that the number has exceeded 300.

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Despite speculation on who is included and some nominators revealing who they have put forward, identifying the majority of those on the list and who nominated them will not be known until 2073, as the rules of the peace prize process includes a 50-year embargo on releasing the names.

Members of Norway's royal family and guests applaud the Nobel Peace Prize 2022 winners last year. PHOTO: AFP

Who can nominate?

The statutes of the Nobel Foundation, list nine categories of valid nominators for the peace prize that includes (non-exhaustive list): heads of state or members of national governments; members of the International Court of Justice; members of l’Institut de Droit [Swiss based international law organization]; members of the Board of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom; university professors, in areas such as history, social sciences, law, philosophy, theology, and religion; university rectors and university directors (or their equivalents); directors of peace research institutes and foreign policy institutes; individual or corporate winners of the Nobel Peace Prize; current or former members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

What are Zelensky’s chances?

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Christian Tybring-Gjedde, the Norwegian member of parliament from the Progress Party hinted on Facebook in 2022 he would nominate Ukraine’s President Zelensky.

Michael Rubin, a senior fellow at the US Enterprise Institute and a former Pentagon official is a strong advocate for Ukraine’s leader, argued: “By rallying Ukrainians and, seemingly against all odds, delivering a searing rebuke to Putin, Zelensky has done more to enable peace than most Nobel Peace Prize laureates have done in their careers.”

The OLBG betting site lists over 30 bookmakers who will accept bets on the winner of the Peace Prize and say that Zelensky is quoted as a 14 percent chance of winning – ahead of his nearest rivals.

But what do they know? The committee has sprung many a complete surprise in the past. It might still be worth investing a few dollars on Zelensky – the betting site Paddy Power lists him at 6 to 1 to win.

 

There is, in any case, only a week to wait for the committee’s decision.

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