Questions and answers about the nomination process for a Nobel Peace Prize

Olav Njølstad, Director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute, answers frequently asked questions.

How does the nomination process work?
Nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize are submitted from all corners of the world to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, responsible for selecting the recipient(s) of the prize. Anyone who fulfils the nominator criteria can put forward a name and motivate their opinion of why they consider the candidate worthy. This is what differs the Nobel Peace Prize selection process from many other prizes where the committee in charge chooses both all the nominees and the winners.

Who can nominate?
Nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize requires no invitation. Eligible nominators are university rectors or chancellors, professors of political and social science, history, philosophy, law and theology; leaders of peace research institutes and institutes of foreign affairs; members of national assemblies, governments, and international courts of law; previous Nobel Peace Prize laureates; board members of organizations and institutions that have received the Nobel Peace Prize; present and past members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee; and former advisers of the Norwegian Nobel Institute.

What is the benefit of allowing so many nominators?
The Nobel Peace Prize is international and the broad eligibility of nominators ensures that a great variety of candidates from all corners of the world is brought forward to the committee’s attention every year.

Is there a list of all of the nominees for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize?
Contrary to common belief, there is no public list of the current year’s nominees. The complete list of eligible nominees of any year’s prizes is not disclosed for another 50 years – a restriction as governed by the Nobel statutes.

What does it mean to be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize?
Any person or organization can be nominated by anyone eligible to nominate. The Norwegian Nobel Committee has no say in submissions that arrives according to the criteria, strictly in who is actually awarded the prize in October. To simply be nominated is therefore not an endorsement or extended honour to imply affiliation with the Nobel Peace Prize or its related institutions.

Do you share any information about who is nominated for the peace prize this year? 
No. In fact, none of the Nobel Committees do announce the names of nominees, neither to the media nor to the candidates themselves. In so far as certain names crop up in the advance speculations of potential nominees or candidates – it’s either sheer guesswork or information put out by the person or persons behind a nomination.

Can you officially confirm if a nomination for this year’s prize is for real or not?
As a matter of principle, and according to the Nobel statutes, the Norwegian Nobel Institute can never confirm, or disconfirm, whether someone has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize until the full list of nominations is made public after 50 years.

What does the nomination process look like from start to finish?
It’s usually an eight-month screening and decision-making process which involves not only the five-member Norwegian Nobel Committee and its Secretary but a group of Norwegian and international advisers as well. The advisers, who are selected on the basis of their professional experience and academic expertise, prepare individual reports on the candidates that the committee has put on its short list. The initial reports are usually ready by the end of April.

The committee members then study the reports together with other relevant information and start their deliberations. More often than not they will ask for further reports on various candidates. As they continue their deliberations throughout the summer and receive additional reports from the advisers, they narrow the field of candidates down to a very small group.

Eventually, by the beginning of October at the latest, the committee makes its decision through a simple majority vote. The decision is final and without appeal. The name(s) of that year’s Nobel Peace Prize laureate(s) is then announced. The cycle is completed on 10 December, when the annual Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony takes place in the Oslo City Hall. At the ceremony, the laureate(s) delivers the Nobel Prize lecture and receives the Nobel Prize medal and diploma as well as a document confirming the prize amount.

More questions and answers about the Nobel Peace Prize

More information about the nomination process
Nomination and selection of peace prize laureates
About the nomination of peace prize laureates

Read more about how the Nobel Prize laureates are nominated:
Nomination of the physics laureates
Nomination of the chemistry laureates
Nomination of the medicine laureates
Nomination of the literature laureates
Nomination of the peace prize laureates
Nomination of the laureates in economic sciences


First published 5 February 2016

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