[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index ][Thread Index ]

Nobel Peace Prize

Nobel Peace Prize -- no magic wand

    By Rolf Soderlind 
    OSLO, Oct 13 (Reuter) - The Nobel Peace Prize brings moral authority to
its recipients and helps publicise causes, but the record shows winning it is
no guarantee of political success. 
    Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who won the prize in 1991 for
her fight for democracy against Burma's military rulers, is still under house
arrest in Rangoon despite U.N.-led international appeals on her behalf. 
    The Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual and political leader, won the prize in
1989 but recently said he was growing weary of defending his efforts to reach
a political solution with China over the future of his remote Himalayan
    ``The prize has its limitations,'' Norwegian Nobel institute director
Geir Lundestad told Reuters on the eve of the announcement of the 1994 peace
prize on Friday. 
    ``It is like a loudspeaker, especially for those who were not so well
known before they won it,'' Lundestad said. ``They get more attention in the
    ``But the prize is no magic wand. It cannot magic away the problems of
the world.'' 
    This year it is expected to be shared by Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak
Rabin and PLO chairman Yasser Arafat for the 1993 Israeli-PLO agreement on
limited Palestinian self-rule. 
    Awarded since 1901, the honour is named after Swedish industrialist
Alfred Nobel. He thought his invention of dynamite would end all wars, but to
be sure he endowed the peace prize in his will. 
    Awards have often gone to politicians in the middle of a peace process or
little known activists with the clear aim of boosting their cause. 
    ``Yes, Aung San Suu Kyi is still under house arrest, but the prize has
moved Burma much higher on the international agenda,'' Lundestad said. ``Her
example shows what the prize can do and what it cannot do, but I am confident
about Burma in the long term.'' 
    He said the Dalai Lama ``now travels around the world and everyone
listens to him, but you cannot magic away the Chinese from Tibet.'' 
    Previous winners who have been protected by the award include Andrei
Sakharov, who won as a Soviet dissident in 1975. 
    Others who say the prize helped their cause and protect them personally
include Polish President Lech Walesa, who won in 1983 when he was an
anti-communist dissident, and South African anti-apartheid cleric Desmond
Tutu, the 1984 laureate. 
    Of the joint 1993 winners -- South Africa's F.W. de Klerk and Nelson
Mandela -- the latter has fared better. 
    The prize gave further international weight to the democracy talks under
way at the time in South Africa -- but probably had little impact on the
outcome of the elections which were bound to usher in black majority rule,
political analysts in Johannesburg say. 
    The elections catapaulted Mandela to de Klerk's old job as president and
demoted the white reformist leader to deputy president. 
    Former Costa Rican president Oscar Arias, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize
in 1987, has remained active in his efforts to bring peace to the troubled
region of Central America. 
    He used his prize money to establish a peace foundation in the Costa
Rican capital San Jose, the Arias Foundation, to encourage peace and
development internationally. 
    Since winning the Nobel peace prize in 1992, Rigoberta Menchu, a Quiche
Indian from northern Guatemala, has been a tireless campaigner for indigenous
rights around the world. 
    In 1993 she was named U.N. goodwill ambassador to coincide with the
U.N.'s international year of indigenous peoples and visited 28 countries to
support various indigenous struggles. 
    But hopes that Menchu, 35, would unite Guatemala's 22 ethnic groups and
emerge as a major political leader have not materialised, said a Western
diplomat in Guatemala City. 

Transmitted: 94-10-13 07:44:52 EDT