11 Oct 2013

Safety in numbers? Why the Nobel prize did not go to Malala

Of course the speculation had been that the Nobel peace prize would go to Malala Yousafzai for her exceptional efforts to advance the cause of girls’ eduction.

Yousafzai sits on the sidelines of a news conference convened by 'A World at School' in New York

Historically, the Nobel committee seems to have favoured individuals over groups, but of late appear to have turned to groups when they couldn’t decide an individual.

In truth, given the chequered history of awarding the prize to individuals – Shimon Peres, Yasser Arafat, Henry Kissinger etc – perhaps the lack of peace that flowed from such awards has left the committee somewhat risk-averse.

To give it to a 16-year-old child, despite her great bravery, having been shot by the Taliban, might be thought still too tender an age to invest with the potency of the prize.

Five hundred people work for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and have been toiling for some 16 years to clear the planet of chemical weapons.

The very fact that the Middle East is littered with this weaponry, declared and undeclared, serves to underline the importance of their work.

But whether the agency has really made deep in-roads into global stockpiles remains to be seen, not least because nations are so dishonest about what they actually have.

What do we have? What do America, Israel, China or Russia have? Let’s hope this prize triggers a degree of international candour about these nasty, potentially catastrophic devices.

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