[Read directly at TheJakartaPost.com.]
by Jennie S. Bev, Santa Clara
The 2012 Nobel Peace Prize goes to the European Union (EU). Yes, not to an individual, like Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year old Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban for advocating girls’ right to an education.
Instead, the Nobel Peace Prize committee has chosen an institution undergoing economic turmoil, which is quite a puzzling decision.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, of course, was elated with the news. I was not.
Well, it truly depends on how you view this issue. The true purpose for awarding the prize to the European Union is a big question mark.
With all due respect to the Nobel Prize committee, not every Nobel Peace Prize awarded was based on a deserving past. Instead, sometimes it can be based upon future hopes and wishes, which may or may not come true.
For instance, US President Barack Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize prematurely, while the US still had troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. Soon after, he ordered drone strikes in Yemen, Somalia and Libya.
And what about Iran? You can see yourself how “peaceful” Obama’s approaches have been in dealing with conflict.
When announcing Obama’s 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said, “Obama has as president created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play.
Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations.
Thanks to Obama’s initiative, the US is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting."
Has Obama’s contribution to international relations made the world a more peaceful place? You can answer by yourself.
The other two US presidents who received a Nobel Peace Prize while in office were: Theodore Roosevelt (1906) and Woodrow Wilson (1919). Roosevelt won the prize for collaborating on various peace treaties.
Wilson won the prize for his famed “14 points” to prevent future conflict after the First World War and his work to develop the League of Nations. These two US presidents deserved the prize.
There are two arguments as to why the EU deserves the award.
First, ever since EU has been in place, its members have been living in peace without any armed conflicts as in the 19th and 20th centuries. While it has been dedicated to foster an inclusive environment for democracy and human rights, recent economic woes have been creating instability.
Still, such instability is considered “minor” compared with the achievements in maintaining peace and creating an environment for a democratic and humane society while having a single market totaling US$17 trillion in combined gross domestic product.
Second, the EU is expected to escalate its peace building work and commitment to cultivate a democratic and humane society to international level.
They are expected to serve as a model supranational society, where every nation’s interest is not limited to their own sovereignty expectations. This argument is future-oriented and is likely to affect other countries, including Indonesia.
The problem with a future-oriented reason for awarding the Nobel Peace Prize is that past performance isn’t an exact indication of future performance. Also, an inspiring aspiration can be proven not so inspiring, like the case of Obama. Over the year, it has been proven that Obama isn’t more “peaceful” than his predecessor George W. Bush.
My concern now is: EU’s economic woes might deteriorate the cohesiveness among its members and might create an unprecedented conundrum. We can choose to see the world from an optimistic or a pessimistic perspective, from a utopian or a dystopian paradigm.
Still, facts are facts. And it takes a while to observe whether a Nobel Peace Prize for the EU is a good or a bad decision.
We, in Indonesia, will be able to see the ripple effects, despite its indirectness.
The Jakarta Post, October 23, 2012