The Norwegian Nobel Committee said Wednesday that 305 candidates were nominated for the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize by the Feb. 1 deadline, the lowest number in four years. The names of the 212 individuals and 93 organizations were not released, in accordance with committee practice.
The Oslo-based organization said there was a decrease from last year’s 343 candidates, and that it was the lowest number of registered candidates since 2019. Over the last eight years, the number of annual candidates has exceeded 300, it said, adding that the provisional record was set in 2016 with 376.
“Who nominates, and who is nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize is a secret for 50 years,” the very secretive board in Oslo said in a statement.
A vast group of people can submit a nomination for the prize: heads of state or politicians serving at a national level, university professors, directors of foreign policy institutes, past Nobel Prize recipients and members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
However, those doing the nominating may choose to make it public, raising publicity both for the nominee and the proposer.
Norwegian lawmaker Lan Marie Nguyen Berg of the Green Party nominated two climate activists, Greta Thunberg of Sweden and Ugandan Vanessa Nakate, “for enormous mobilization” in their continents.
Thunberg has been nominated four times, including last year when the prize went to human rights activists from Ukraine, Belarus and Russia.
The 2022 award was a strong rebuke to Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose invasion of Ukraine ruptured decades of nearly uninterrupted peace in Europe, and to the Belarusian president, his authoritarian ally.
On Feb. 1, the director of the Peace Research Institute Oslo, Henrik Urdal, shortlisted human rights activists as his favorites to win the 2023 award. They included Narges Mohammadi, an Iranian human rights activist and Mahbouba Seraj, an Afghan women’s rights activist; Myanmar’s representative to the United Nations, Kyaw Moe Tun; and the Netherlands-based International Court of Justice, among others.
Urdal noted that 2023 was the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and that his list “reflects a timely and worthy focus on human rights defenders and activists.”
The Nobel Peace Prize is handed out in the Norwegian capital, Oslo, while the other awards are presented in Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, in line with prize founder Alfred Nobel’s wishes.
Five Nobel Prizes were established under the terms of Nobel’s will. A sixth, for economics, was created by the Central Bank of Sweden in 1968 as a memorial to Nobel. The winners will be announced in early October.
The laureates receive their awards at prize ceremonies held on Dec. 10, the anniversary of Nobel’s death in 1896. The prize includes a diploma, a gold medal and a cash award of about $1 million — which often is shared.
The Nobel Peace Prize has always attracted more controversial or surprising nominees than its scientific cousins. Both Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump were nominated in 2021.