Peace group brands EU Nobel win 'unlawful'

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File photo: Rock Cohen
14:51 CET+01:00
Giving the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union is "unlawful" since it is not a "champion of peace" as defined by the will of founder Alfred Nobel, the International Peace Bureau said on Monday.

In an open letter to Sweden's Nobel Foundation, the organization asked that this year's eight million kroner-prize ($1.19 million) be withheld, a demand that was immediately rejected by the Norwegian committee tasked with selecting the peace laureate.

"The European Union ... clearly is not one of 'the champions of peace' Alfred Nobel had in mind and described in his will," the peace federation wrote.

The Swedish industrialist and philanthropist, who died in 1896, said in his testament that the award should go to 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."

The International Peace Bureau noted that the EU "is not seeking to realize a demilitarization of international relations", and that its members "condone security based on military force and have waged wars rather than insisting on the need for alternative approaches."

The Geneva-based peace network, which has more than 300 member organizations and was itself the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1910, accused the committee of having "redefined" the prize, which now also recognizes environmentalists and anti-poverty campaigners.

The only Nobel Prize given out in Norway was on October 12th awarded to a crisis-stricken EU for its "advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe."

The award will be presented to the EU on December 10th, which is the anniversary of Alfred Nobel's death.

In Oslo, the influential secretary of the Norwegian Nobel Committee brushed off the criticisms.

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"These viewpoints have been presented several times, they are well known and won't impact the evolution of the prize," Geir Lundestad told AFP.

He added that the award "will indeed be handed out" at the Oslo ceremony, where it will be jointly collected by European Parliament President Martin Schulz, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and EU President Herman Van Rompuy.

The criticisms by the International Peace Bureau echo those of its former vice president, Norwegian lawyer Fredrik Heffermehl, author of the book "Nobel's Will", who unsuccessfully lobbied the Swedish foundation charged with overseeing the awards over the issue.

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