Some of you may remember an entry from December last year, at a time when Norway had suffered several set-backs reputation wise. A substantial part of that entry was dedicated to an oped by the great grandson of Alfred Nobel, who charged that the Norwegian Nobel committee does not fulfill its obligations under the Alfred Nobel Testament:
He says that the Norwegian Committee’s
disregard for the will and the implementation of its own “expanded concept of peace,” , is highly problematic and probably illegal. As long as there is still work for peace and disarmament in the world, the committee may not regard themselves as sovereign and disregard the will of the testator as it now has done. The Director of the Nobel Institute, Geir Lundestad, demonstrated thus contempt for the Nobel Peace’s vision when, in an article in Aftenposten 17 October 2007, wrote that “The environment and climate, similar to human rights, will soon prove to be a natural part of the analysis.”
Michael Nobel is also critical of the politicization of the Nobel Peace Price Committee:
It seems as though the Norwegian government has a double-edged attitude to the Nobel Peace Prize: It is routine for the Political Norway to line up to congratulate the prize winners. Meanwhile, these same politicians are keen to point out that the Committee is independent and not part of Norwegian foreign policy. Moreover, politicians are fighting for seats on the committee. Perhaps it is no wonder that the Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre finds it difficult to explain that the Nobel Prize does not represent official Norwegian policy?
The debate following Carl I. Hagen ‘s attempt to get into the committee, put no emphasis on skills related to international peace efforts – the most obvious qualification for a seat on the committee.
When Berit Reiss-Andersen was appointed as a new member, the Labour Party’s parliamentary leader, Helga Pedersen said: “she (Reiss-Andersen) has a clear foundation in Norwegian politics, which is an important qualification (…)qualifications beyond this are of course also of value (…) in addition, she has been involved in human rights issues ”.
In conclusion, he threatens that unless the Norwegian Nobel Price Committee can competently administer the task it is set to do, according to the strict guidelines of the Nobel Will, steps may be taken to put the Norwegian committee under supervision to ensure compliance.
In a typical non-humble style, Geir Lundestad shot back that Mr. Nobel is a nincompoop who talks out of turn and that nobody takes him seriously:
– We have heard this many times, and he has no influence on this, says Geir Lundestad to VG.
No, we are not worried. The family has no influence on this anymore. Michael has had many views on many things in the past, but the family is also divided. It is not certain that this represents the family anyway, says Lundestad.
I am sure that Mr. Lundestad must have felt just a tad stupid when, on February 1, Norwegian media could inform us that the Alfred Nobel foundation bosses in Sweden would investigate whether the Norwegian Nobel committee indeed works within the specific wishes of the Alfred Nobel Testament and instructed the Nobel Peace Price Committee in Norway to respond in minute details to a letter by Mr. Heffermehl, a lawyer who for many years has been critical of the Norwegian criteria for the Nobel Peace Price award. At the time, Mr. Lundestad assured us that
We will of course reply to these, but I don’t agree that this amounts to an investigation of us.
He also says that the committee has a clear conscience and thinks they have not acted wrongly.
Of course, we know what is written in the Alfred Nobel will, but all such documents must be made relevant to their times, he tells NTB
Fast forward till today, when major newspapers inform us that according to a top Swedish jurist, Henning Isoz, a law that came into effect in 1996, specifically sets aside the provisions of the Nobel Testament.
The board of directors of the Nobel committee cannot delegate its responsibility to different committees. They would then run the risk of being liable if somebody appeals a decision.
Mr. Isoz is one of the jurists who wrote the 1996 law, which regulates Swedish foundations.
Mr Lundestad protests this, and says: the will clearly states that the Nobel Peace Price shall be awarded by Norway.
According to Aftonbladet, this legal impasse is expected to go through the various Swedish courts and all the way to the Swedish Supreme court to arrive at a final decision.
Mr. Lundestad remains steadfast that the Norwegian Nobel Committee has not committed any wrongdoing and that the committee has no plans for adjusting its interpretation of the Nobel Testament:
We have a clear conscience. We are convinced that we interpret the Nobel Testament correctly in modern times.
How galling it must be for him that this decision is not to be made in a Norwegian court, but in a Swedish one, where they may just feel that the Norwegian politicians have gone one step too far one time too many…