European Commission chief Barroso, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Helmut Kohl are contenders for the Nobel Peace Prize 2008. The winner will be announced in October 2008.
European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, ex-German chancellor Helmut Kohl and Esperanto are seen as contenders for the Nobel Peace Prize as the 2008 nomination period draws to a close.
The Nobel committee only considers nominees whose names have been sent in and postmarked by the February 1 deadline. The name of the winner will be announced in October.
"The 2008 race looks wide open," the head of the Oslo Peace Research Institute (PRIO), Stein Toennesson, told AFP.
"That should give the Nobel committee another opportunity to honour a little-known candidate fighting for human rights or peace in a more narrow sense of the term," he posited.
Last year, former US vice president Al Gore and the UN's top climate change panel IPCC were jointly honoured for their efforts to raise awareness about climate change.
Global warming had dominated the headlines and was therefore not a surprise winner, but the committee's choice did broaden the scope of the prize beyond the traditional definition of peace.
Speculation is always rife about who will win the Nobel Peace Prize, but any guessing is just that since the committee keeps the names of the nominees a well-kept secret for 50 years.
However, those who nominate candidates are entitled to go public with the name of their nominee.
Thousands of people are eligible to submit nominations, including members of parliament and government worldwide, as well as university professors, previous laureates and members of several international institutes.
East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta, who won the prestigious prize himself in 1996, has said he planned to nominate Barroso since the European Commission has under his presidency "been promoting dialogue for peace and contributes highly to the UN peace troops and supports refugees."
Another former laureate, ex-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, has proposed Kohl for the role he played in bringing a peaceful end to the Cold War and promoting European reconciliation, according to German press reports.
A petition has also been launched in Algeria for Bouteflika to be awarded the prize, supported by Algerian members of parliament and ministers.
The Nobel committee insists however that it is not swayed by public campaigns and media hype, which it says can even be counter-productive.
On a lighter note, two Swiss politicians have nominated Esperanto, seen as a language of peace and hope and devised in 1887 as an international medium of communication.
"I don't speak it myself but a number of people have drawn my attention to its role in developing dialogue and friendship between cultures," Gisele Ory, one of the two nominators, told AFP, adding that she hoped to learn the artificial language someday.
Geir Lundestad, the secretary general of the Nobel committee, stressed that nominations reflect only the views of those who propose the candidates and not those of the institute.
"To our great delight, the nominees come from an increasingly broad array of places. There are the 'usuals' and the newcomers," he said.
And as the rules dictate, the five members of the Nobel committee are also allowed to nominate their own candidates at their first meeting, to be held on February 26.
Date created : 2008-01-31