Top 10 People Who Should Have Won The Nobel Peace Prize (But Never Did)

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The Nobel Prize is one of the most coveted international awards in modern history. Of the different types of awards, the Peace Prize is one of the most significant, and controversial. Remember a few years ago when Obama won the award, and everyone hated him? Well, that wasn’t the first time the committee has been scrutinized for someone they’ve awarded, although sometimes it’s about someone they didn’t award.

10. Eleanor Roosevelt

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Most of us only remember Eleanor Roosevelt for being the First Lady to FDR. But in reality, Eleanor Roosevelt was as great as, or maybe even greater than her husband. Most people complain the US doesn’t really give the UN any respect and, while that is partially true today, it was entirely true when FDR was president. Eleanor Roosevelt started the first US mission to the UN, basically making the US recognize that the UN is a thing that existed. Once there, she wasted no time establishing the UN Commission on Human Rights and writing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She all but looked superpowers like the Soviet Union in the eye and told them to back the Hell away, cuz they’re dealing with Mega-Eleanor now. He husband even nicknamed her, “First Lady of the World” for her activeness. She did no less as First Lady either, being one of the most powerful supporters of the civil rights movement. Yet, for all her work, she never once received the Nobel Prize.

9. Vaclav Havel

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Vaclav Havel was the last President of Czechoslovakia, and the first President of the Czech Republic. While being president of two countries at once should merit him all the Nobel Prizes, he is also very well known in Eastern Europe for his human rights work. Havel started his political life by being an instrumental factor in the Prague Spring (that’s the Arab Spring of Eastern Europe, for all you 12-year-olds). Afterwards, he was unanimously voted in as President of the new country that had broken off of the Soviet Union, despite not really wanting the job. In addition to standing up to Mother Russia, he also prevented civil war between the Czechs and Solvaks, and converted his country into a proper republic with free elections.

8. Dorothy Day

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Dorothy Day is known for her outstanding work during the Great Depression. After her conversion to Catholicism, she started the Catholic Worker, which was basically a pacifist movement against the World War II climate, that sought to rebuild families and homes, sometimes literally. Her system was of communal living, where families would live together, either on a farm or in a large building, instead of in the slums. Her movement spread to Canada and Europe. Today, there is an open case with the Pope to canonize her. But no Nobel Prize.

7. Fazle Hasan Abed

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After the Indo-Pakistani Wars of Separation, Bangladesh declared itself its own country. So, naturally happy to hear the news, Abed rushed home from England, only to find his country in shambles. With some of his modest savings, he created a development organization to build infrastructure and homes. In just a few years, it became one of the largest development organizations in the world. Today, it encompasses 8 different countries, and aids more than 110 million people. And, while Abed has received numerous awards, he was snubbed of the most important of them all.

6. Sari Nusseibeh

Sari-Nusseibeh

Sari Nusseibeh is a Palestinian academic, and outspoken critic of Israel. To be fair, literally every Palestinian is a critic of Israel. But Nusseibeh didn’t lash out violently; instead, he reacted by helping form the Palestinian authority, AKA the only party working with Israel, instead of fighting them. He created over 200 committees to address the various humanitarian needs of his people. Eventually, he was arrested and made a Prisoner of Conscience (Amnesty International’s term for someone arrested purely for their beliefs.) After he was released, he began working with Israel to make a Palestinian state, and was harshly opposed to the militarization of Hamas. In many ways, Nusseibeh was like Yasser Arafat, who did win the Nobel Peace Prize, making it even more confusing that he didn’t.

5. Corazon Aquino

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Corazon Aquino was the first female President in Asia. Let that sink in. Ready? Cool. As President of the Philippines, she instituted a number of democratic and humanitarian reforms. You see, she was taking the Presidency after a time of unrest and martial law unleashed by the United States of America, who really didn’t want to lose their territories. So, when she took office, she ended the authoritarian rule, and instituted a new constitution with democratic reforms. As part of shaping her country, she also increased the economic prosperity and made the country more independent. She is considered one of the the most influential women to have ever shaped the world, and has no trophy to symbolize that.

4. Pope John Paul II

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Pope John Paul II was widely known in the religious world for his religious tolerance. He once stated he wanted his papacy to bring Islam, Judaism, and Christianity into one large religious armada. He was one of the most outspoken Christian religious critics of the Iraq War, and the first Pope to assert that gay people have the “same dignity and rights as everybody else.” He was also a huge factor in the collapse of three different dictatorships (Haiti, Paraguay, and Chile,) as his visits to those countries came with direct criticism of their governments. He was admired in the Middle East after he kissed a Holy Koran during a visit to Syria. He is also the first Pope to enter and pray in a mosque there, and the first Pope to visit Auschwitz. Pope John Paul II’s tolerance was unprecedented (how have his two successors been with the whole gay rights thing?) His snub is embarrassing.

3. Ken Saro-Wiwa

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Saro-Wiwa was basically the Gandhi of Nigeria. As a member of a minority race in the country, he often spoke out against the country for displacing his people and using their land for oil, as well as dumping petroleum in the water. He established an organization, and made it their purpose to better the rights of his people. At his peak, he organized nonviolent protests of hundreds of thousands of persecuted minorities, drawing international attention to his cause. Because of that, the military formally occupied his homeland and declared him an enemy of the state. A few years later, he was found, arrested, and hanged. His death caused international criticism against Nigeria, and caused other countries to take economic action.

2. Irena Sendler

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Irena Sendler was a Polish social worker who was active during the Holocaust. She was an active member of the Polish Underground, a secret society devoted to getting Jewish people out of the country and into safe hands. In her lifetime, it is estimated that Irena was able to get something like 2,500 Jewish children to safety. For her uncanny ability to save someone from persecution, especially children, the Nazis arrested and tortured her. Then to top it off, they sentenced her to death. But like the end of a movie, Irena managed to escape, and even survived the war. In hindsight, maybe the Nazi regime should have thought twice before trying to lock up someone who helped thousands of kids get to safety.

Eventually, she received multiple awards from Poland and Israel and died not by Nazi hands, but of natural causes. The crazy thing is, she was actually nominated for the Peace Prize, and that nomination was publicly endorsed by the President of Poland. But, unfortunately, that’s one award she never won.

1. Mahatma Gandhi

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If you need an introduction for Mahatma Gandhi, the mac daddy of nonviolent protest, then get off this site and get to a damned library. This is the man who led India to freedom and inspired dozens of similar movements around the world, including the entire civil rights movement in the United States. Gandhi is to India what Washington is to the States; they even have a national holiday on his birthday. Even his oppressors, the British, acknowledge how instrumental he was in shaping things like sit-ins, hunger strikes, and public protests.

And he has never won the Nobel Peace Prize. Like, ever. Sure he was nominated, more than anyone else actually – a record breaking five times.  Alas, Gandhi will have to be content with everlasting fame, and international appreciation. Poor guy.

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Mohammed Shariff deserves to win a Nobel Prize in List Writing. Nominate him on Twitter.


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23 Comments

  1. Wow. OK, a couple of glaring issues:

    6. “Prisoner of Conscious”… it’s prisoner of conscience.

    5. “You see, she was taking the Presidency after a time of unrest and martial law unleashed by the United States of America”

    Uh, no. The Philippines gained their independence with the full blessing of the United States in 1946. The 2 countries have maintained fairly close ties, but that “time of unrest and martial law” did not come about because the US was trying to hold the good people of the Philippines down… it was because of a brutal dictator named Ferdinand Marcos, who was duly elected as President back in the 60’s and began consolidating power. In the 1970’s, after a speech by Benigno Aquino, he declared martial law (all on his own) and kept the country under his thumb until 1986, when Aquino’s widow (he’d been assassinated in 1983) returned from exile in the United States to lead a short revolution during which Marcos (and his shoe-loving wife) was toppled and she became President. During this time, the US supported the rights of the people to be free and have free elections. After the revolution, they supported the duly elected President in her long stabilization of the country.

    2. Irena Sendler did a lot of great work, but so did a lot of other people in World War II, which means she had a ton of competition. By the time she was nominated for her work in 2007, over 60 years had passed since her actions and the Nobel committee is far more interested in stuff you’ve done in the past 10 years than stuff you did more than half a century ago, which is why the 2007 award went to Al Gore for his brave act of making a movie… groan. She shouldn’t feel bad because she’s in good company- they passed over a ton of other good peace advocates (Mahathir Mohammed, Evo Morales, etc.) to slap an award on Mr. Global Warming.

    • Good work on the reply to the posting about Cory Aquino. The author of this collection is obviously anti-American. I live in the Philippines, and what you wrote about Marco is correct. When Mrs. Aquino was president she did indeed TRY to improve things for the people of the Philippines. BUT, when her goals confronted the goals of the country’s ruling elite, she backed off. Why? Her own family is part of the ruling elite! So she tried and failed because she would not stand up to her own family. Come here and ask the Filipino people NOT if they like or love Cory, but did she make a positive impact on their lives?? I have asked that question many times, but don’t trust me, come here and ask the people yourself.

  2. Ginger Terry on

    5. While not holding the title of President, Sirimavo Bandaranaike was the first elected female head of State in Asia.

  3. The Nobel is a joke.. Obviously Obama shouldn`t have got it, but HENRY KISSINGER did. It`s a farce. I mean previous nominees have been HITLER, STALIN and BENITO MUSSOLINI. It should be named the war prize. Next time, it`s likely that madman Kim Jong Un will get it.

    • The greatest joke was giving it to the EU – a clear PR stunt, trying to get the Europeans to like that faceless organization which robbed them their democracy.

  4. John Paul II continued the long tradition of the Catholic church supporting Croat discrimination against Serbs and did nothing to end bring peace to the Balkans during the Croatian War of Independance, a war based on Catholicism. Ghandi hated Africans and supported the British occupation of South Africa and publicly supported Hitler.

    • “Ghandi hated Africans and supported the British occupation of South Africa and publicly supported Hitler.”

      Not true. He did some crazy stuff like not support Bose or speak up against the hanging of Bhagat Singh, but not this, in fact he equally honored in Africa as he is in India.

  5. Nathaniel Wenger on

    no matter what I write its prevented from being exposed and no matter what someone does to me its prevented from being exposed. google wengerocracy

  6. Good article, Mohammed Shariff. I was a bit aggressive towards your article on “Bollywood movies” and called you “being offensive on purpose”. Well, after this article, I take my words back. Now I think that you were just trying to be funny.

    I am also a non-believer in Nobel as they sometimes make huge errors (which should not be happen considering the amount of effort they try to put in) but they have given an official statement regarding their failure to give Mahatma Gandhi a Nobel peace prize that now it’s too late and it is something that they will have to live forever with.

  7. No 1?

    He is responsible for current state of India and Pakistan. If there is unrest in south asia and kashmir, it’s due to him

    • Ghandi’s aim was to have a united India, which included Pakistan. It was the British that partitioned off Pakistan, not Ghandi.

  8. the Nobel prize was instituted by the inventor of dynomite because he felt guilty about all the harm it introduced into the world. coincidentally he was also an American… so why are you complaining about things being fair? who cares about a prize, people will always be more recognized for the work they did, not the medals won.

  9. Thick Nhat Hanh should be high on this list. He was nominated by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr for his work for peace during the Vietnam War.

  10. You forgot Rosalind Franklin, the female scientist who discovered the structure in double helix of the ADN !

  11. Most the people here are areas related with Social science. I agree that most of the ppl should have Nobel prize for what they have done but I do not see any Scientist in the area of Physics,Chemistry… which are not mentioned in the research. It looks like the whole research lucks Hugh area that is Science. I can say this is not complete research. It biased to only Politicians and other social scientists unfortunately 20 century was the Century of science and Technology. Politicians and other social scientist were in the world for centuries but it was the 21st scientist who brought change to this world more than any other sector of society and there were many scientist who deserve to get the Nobel prize but u did not mention here that is petty. I think this is Better .http://mentalfloss.com/article/17437/7-geniuses-and-1-entire-science-never-won-nobel

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