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Nobel Foundation rejects Peace Prize criticism

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13:01 CET+01:00
The Nobel Foundation, which administers the prestigious prizes in line with the will of Alfred Nobel, on Thursday rejected criticism of recent choices for the Peace Prize.

"Despite that many lively discussions have been held on whether the chosen Peace Prize laureates fulfilled the prescribed provisions, the Foundation does not consider that the prize decisions made by the Norwegian Nobel Committee have entailed any such deviation," the Foundation said in a statement.

Swedish authorities had asked the Foundation to look into claims from Fredrik Heffermehl, a lawyer and author of the book "The Nobel Peace Prize: What Nobel Really Wanted," that the Norwegian Nobel Committee had gone far astray from the wishes expressed in prize creator Alfred Nobel's 1895 last will and testament.

Heffermehl claims that the five-member prize committee had deviated from Nobel's wishes by honouring human rights activists, such as Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo in 2010, environmentalists such as Al Gore and the IPCC in 2007, and humanitarian workers like Mother Teresa in 1979.

"What cause and which people did Nobel have in mind when he spoke of 'champions of peace'? The answer is so easy and so clear that if (the head of the Nobel Institute in Oslo, Geir) Lundestad and his committee accepted it, their only reaction would be to resign immediately," he told AFP in an email last month.

In his will, Nobel stipulated that the Peace Prize should go to the person or organisation that has "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."

The Stockholm-based Nobel Foundation meanwhile stressed that Nobel had wanted the different prize committees to be independent in their decisions, and pointed out that in all the prize categories there was room for interpretation and debate about which areas should be included.

It will in the end officially be up to the Stockholm county administration to determine if the Norwegian Nobel Committee has followed the rules or not, but it has already rejected a similar complaint from Heffermehl once before, in 2009, and is likely to fall in line with the Nobel Foundation's opinion.

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