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“Why I nominated WikiLeaks for the Nobel Peace Prize”

Can WikiLeaks win the Nobel Peace Prize? Snorre Valen explains why he nominated the organization for this prestigious prize.

by Snorre Valen On February 8, 2011

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Could WikiLeaks, the organization that caused more than a migraine for diplomats around the world, join the ranks of other Noble Peace Prize winners?

This what Snorre Valen – a member of the Norwegian Parliament – hopes. This 26 year-old blogger/musician/government official submitted his nomination to the Noble Peace Prize committee, which ultimately shook the White House.

Parliament members, university chancellors, presidents, and past winners are able to suggest names of individuals and organizations for this prestigious award. A decision should be made by early October, and if WikiLeaks wins it will follow last year’s winner Liu Xiaobo.

It is not unusual for organizations to be nominated; since 1901, several organizations have been distinguished for their work. Some of these include the Red Cross (which received the award three times) Doctors without Borders, Amnesty International, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Although this nomination is particularly controversial, the Noble Peace Prize committee has seen worse nominations. Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini and Joseph Stalin all were nominated for the Noble Peace Prize. Thankfully, they never won.

Contacted by OWNI, Snorre Vallen explains his nomination:

I hope to stir a debate about the dilemmas between the democratic governments’ legitimate need to classify information, and the public’s legitimate need to hold their rulers accountable…Like most countries, Wikileaks has been a major debate in Norway. Reactions are divided, and pretty much follows the same political patterns as (sic) the western world. The debate about freedom of speech and freedom of publishing has been dominated by the Muhammed caricature-case for years in Norway, but I always found Wikileaks more relevant – because it is about power and abuse of power. Are we willing to protect freedom of speech even when it threatens our own governments? It is kind of a “litmus test” of democratic ideals.

In theory, the nominations are supposed to remain secret for 50 years after they are submitted. While the committee members are vowed to silence, there is nothing preventing those who made the nominations from going public with their personal choices. Snorre Valen decided to lead the pack in this approach.

I chose to go public because I fear the newspeak that is finding its way onto our political scene. When American politicians who usually defend human right and freedom of speech claim that Mubarak is “not a dictator” but call Wikileaks “terrorists,” something is very wrong.

When asked whether WikiLeaks had a chance of winning the Peace Prize, he replied “I definitely do. They are a strong candidate.”

Wednesday, Snorre Valen published an explanation on his blog as to why he submitted this nomination:

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It is always easier to support freedom of speech when the one who speaks agree with you politically. This is one of the “tests” on liberal and democratic values that governments tend to fail. For instance, western governments have a long history on tolerating oppressive regimes that are “friendly-minded”. Internet companies assist China in censoring search engines. And many countries respond to Wikileaks‘ obvious right to publish material that is of public interest, by seeking to “shoot the messenger”.

Publishing material that is deemed classified by the government is an obvious right that newspapers and media have practiced for many, many decades. This way, the public has become aware of abuses of power that governments should be held accountable for. The internet doesn’t change this – it merely makes information more accessible, easier to distribute, and more democratic in the sense that virtually anyone with an internet connection can contribute.

Nevertheless, many seek to redraw the map of information freedom with the emergence of institutions like Wikileaks. Political powers and institutions that ordinarily protect freedom of speech suddenly warn against the danger, the threat to security, yes even the “terrorism” that Wikileaks represent. In doing so, they fail in upholding democratic values and human rights. In fact, they contribute to the opposite. It is not, and should never be, the privilege of politicians to regulate which crimes the public should never be told about, and through which media those crimes become known.

Liu Xiabao was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year for his struggle for human rights, democracy and freedom of speech in China. Likewise: Wikileaks have contributed to the struggle for those very values globally, by exposing (among many other things) corruption, war crimes and torture – some times even conducted by allies of Norway. And most recently: By disclosing the economic arrangements by the presidential family in Tunisia, Wikileaks have made a small contribution to bringing down a 24-year-lasting dictatorship.

It would be a crime to ban or oppose the right to publish such information. It should instead be protected, regardless of what we might think of the contents of some (or even all) of the published material. I am proud to nominate Wikileaks for the Nobel Peace Prize.

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Snorre Valen  is a member of the Norwegian Parliament for the Socialist Left party. He is also a blogger since 2004 and a pianist in two groups. Further information on Snorre Valen can be found on his Twitter account.


The original post was published on Valen’s blog.

Article written by : Martin Untersinger.

Photo source CC : Nick Bygon, Ereneta.

Photo source Snorre Valen : Oskar Mellemsether.

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