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The Nobel Prize, regardless of category, has always been surrounded by politics, intrigue, and even scandal. But those pale in comparison to the Peace Prize, which remains the most prestigious, admired, and controversial prize of our time.
Norwegian writer Unni Turrettini completely upends what we thought we knew about the Peace Prize—both it’s history and how it is awarded.
As 1984’s winner, Desmond Tutu, put it, “No sooner had I got the Nobel Peace Prize than I became an instant oracle.” However, the Peace Prize as we know it is corrupt at its core.
In the years surrounding World War I and II, the Nobel Peace Prize became a beacon of hope, and, through its peace champions, became a reference and an inspiration around the world. But along the way, something went wrong. Alfred Nobel made the mistake of leaving it to the Norwegian Parliament to elect the members of the Nobel Peace Prize committee, which has filled the committee with politicians more loyal to their political party’s agenda than to Nobel’s prize's perogative. As a result, winners are often a result of political expediency.
Betraying the Nobel, will delve into the surprising, and often corrupt, history of the prize, and examine what the committee hoped to obtain by its choices, including the now-infamously awarded Cordell Hull, as well as Henry Kissinger, Al Gore, and Barack Obama. Turrettini shows the effects of increased media attention, which have turned the Nobel into a popularity prize, and a controversial, trouble-provoking commendation.
Selecting winners who are clearly not peace champions creates distrust. So does lack of transparency in the selection process. As trust in leadership and governance reaches historic lows, the Nobel Peace Prize is a symbolic reference as to how we, as a society, are doing. The modern betrayal of the Nobel’s spirit and intentions plays a key role in keeping societal dysfunctions alive.
But there is hope.Betraying the Nobel will show how the Nobel Peace Prize can again become a beacon of hope and honorable leadership. The Prize can and should be a catalyst for change—and an inspiration for rest of us into our own greatness and become the peace champions our world needs.
Unni Turrettini was born in northern Norway and grew up in Drammen, a city near Oslo, approximately twenty minutes from where Breivik was raised. As a foreign exchange student, she graduated from high school in Kansas City, Kansas, and she has law degrees from Norway, France, and the United States. She currently lives with her family in Geneva, Switzerland, and is at work on a second book, a behind-the-scenes examination of the Nobel Peace Prize.