12 October 2009

That Clever Peace Prize Committee

The Norwegian Nobel Committee, which selects the laureate for the Peace Prize, has gotten some criticism for picking U.S. President Barak Obama, much of it pointing out that he hasn't actually accomplished much concrete progress yet on his nuclear disarmament, climate change, or peace initiatives. The Committee recognized this, awarding him the prize in part because he has "created a new climate in international politics."

But did the Committee have a deeper policy? Obama will be in Oslo, Norway, to pick up his medal, diploma, and certificate of the monetary prize on 10th December 2009. He will undoubtedly also attend some of the other Nobel Prize events held in Copenhagen, Denmark, at the same time. The 15th Conference of the Parties under the United Nations’ Climate Change Convention will be taking place in Copenhagen from 7th through 18th December, with the hope of getting a protocol agreed to extend or replace the Kyoto Protocol which expires in 2012.

Thus the wily Norwegian Nobel Committee has cleverly all but insured that President Obama will be in Copenhagen during the Conference, and will be able to exert his charm and influence to try to get a deal done. The Committee has already shown how closely it feels climate change is tied to threats to world peace (see earlier post).

If the Committee's move helps get a deal in Copenhagen it will itself deserve the Peace Prize.

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