The Nobel Peace Prize and Sexual Violence in War

On Friday 5 October, the Norwegian Nobel Peace Prize Committee announced the laureates for 2018: Nadia Murad and Dr Denis Mukwege. These are two extraordinary people, brave, articulate and committed. Both Ms Murad and Dr Mukwege know atrocity close up. Both work to help the victims of wartime sexual crimes and, by denouncing the crime, helping to end it.

Here are my first thoughts on this, in a 3-minute film from SIPRI, part of our Peace Points series; I stress the development of awareness of the crime of sexual violence in war, growing from Susan Brownmiller’s 1975 book Against Our Will,* through UN Security Council Resolution 1820 in 2008, via the campaigning work of Angelina Jolie and former UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, to today:

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Susan Brownmiller, Against Our Will (New York, Simon and Schuster, 1975) – followed by many other editions, paperback, e-book etc.

The nuclear triptych of 2017

Nuclear weapons have come into the political limelight in 2017 as they have hardly done since the 1980s. North Korea, the Iran nuclear deal and the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons create a triptych – one panel for arming up and nuclear confrontation, one for arms control, and one for complete nuclear disarmament. Which way is the world headed? Continue reading

The Tunisian Spring and the Nobel Peace Prize

The ‘Arab Spring’ was triggered by the self-sacrifice of a Tunisian. Four years later Tunisia is the only country where the Spring’s early promise persists and, despite extreme pressures and many risks, political change is unfolding relatively peacefully. The new Nobel laureates, the National Dialogue Quartet, are an important part of the reason why. Here is some of the background. Continue reading

Syria: CW disarmament enters critical phase as hell breaks loose

In Syria in the coming weeks, 600 tons of the ‘precursor chemicals’ from which chemical weapons (CW) are made will be convoyed over land so they can be shipped out. The route goes through areas now being fought over. To remove CW from a war zone will be an unprecedented feat if successful – and equally without parallel if it goes wrong. Continue reading

Obama in power (12): more on that prize

It wasn’t Obama’s fault. He didn’t pick him and so far as we know there was no lobbying though that is common behaviour by would-be laureates and their friends.  Once the prize was announced he would have been churlish to turn it down. His dignified acceptance and remarks about the other worthy nominees struck the right note. But… Continue reading