Nobel Peace Prize 2022: winners, what is the prize, who are Ukraine, Russia and Belarus human rights activists

Belarusian activist Ales Bialiatski, Russia’s Memorial and Ukraine’s Center for Civil Liberties are among this year’s Nobel Prize winners

<p>Belarusian activist Ales Bialiatski, Russia’s Memorial and Ukraine’s Center for Civil Liberties are among this year’s Nobel Prize winners (NationalWorld / Getty)</p>

Belarusian activist Ales Bialiatski, Russia’s Memorial and Ukraine’s Center for Civil Liberties are among this year’s Nobel Prize winners (NationalWorld / Getty)

Human rights campaigners from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus are among the winners of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize. Ales Bialiatski from Belarus, the Russian human rights organisation Memorial and the Ukrainian human rights organisation Center for Civil Liberties were awarded the prestigious prize for their “outstanding effort to document war crimes, human rights abuses and the abuse of power”.

The awards committee said: “This year’s laureates represent civil society in their home countries. They have for many years promoted the right to criticise power and protect the fundamental rights of citizens.

“Together they demonstrate the significance of civil society for peace and democracy.”

When asked if this year’s choice of winners was “a timely birthday president” to Vladimir Putin on the Russian president’s 70th birthday Berit Reiss-Andersen, the head of the Nobel committee, said:

“This prize is not addressing President Putin, not for his birthday, or in any other sense – except that his government, as the government in Belarus, is representing an authoritarian government that is suppressing human rights activists. And the attention that Mr Putin has drawn on himself that is relevant in this context is the way civil society and human rights advocates are being suppressed. And that is what we would like to address with this prize. And we always give a prize for something and to somebody and not against anyone.”

What is the Nobel Peace Prize about?

Alfred Nobel showed a big interest in social issues and was engaged in the peace movement. His acquaintance with Bertha von Suttner, who was a driving force in the international peace movement in Europe and later awarded the Peace Prize, influenced his views on peace. Peace was the fifth and final prize area that Nobel mentioned in his will. The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded by a committee elected by the Norwegian Parliament (Stortinget).

Here is some background information about this year’s titleholders.

Who are the winners of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize?

Ales Bialiatski

Bialiatski is a human rights activist in Belarus, leading an almost 30-year campaign for democracy and freedom. He founded the organisation Viasna (Spring), in 1996. Viasna evolved into a broad-based human rights organisation that documented and protested against the authorities’ use of torture against political prisoners.

Belarusian human rights activis Ales Bialiatski (TT News Agency/AFP via Getty Images)

Since the mid-1980s, Bialiatski has led a nonviolent and nonpartisan campaign to ensure that democratic freedoms and a vibrant civil society are established in Belarus. The activist has campaigned to end the death penalty and as an active member of the national human rights movement, Bialiatski has been arrested and spent several years in prison, as Belarusian authorities tried to impede him. Since 2020, he is still detained without trial. Bialiatski continues to fight for the rights of people around him despite the personal risk.

Memorial, the Russian human rights organisation

Memorial International, is the country’s oldest human rights group. It was established in 1987 by human rights activists in the former Soviet Union who wanted to ensure that the victims of the communist regime’s oppression would never be forgotten. The International Historical Educational Charitable and Human Rights Society or better known as Memorial International is “based on principles of voluntary participation, equality, autonomy and lawfulness”, according to its website.

Russia’s rights group Memorial (AFP via Getty Images)

During the Chechen wars, the group gathered and verified information on abuses and war crimes perpetrated on the population by Russian and pro-Russian forces. In 2009, the head of Memorial’s branch in Chechnya, Natalia Estemirova, was reportedly killed because of this work.

Center for Civil Liberties

The Center for Civil Liberties (CCL) was established in 2007 to promote human rights values in Ukraine. The CCL’s mission is to promote the values of human rights, democracy and solidarity in Ukraine and Eurasia by the way of asserting the principle of human dignity in practice.The Nobel Prize committee said the group has engaged in efforts to identify and document Russian war crimes against the Ukrainian population.

Center for Civil Liberties (NurPhoto via Getty Images)

They added: “The center is playing a pioneering role in holding guilty parties accountable for their crimes.”