2012 Nobel Peace Prize Nominations

Reported by the Associated Pres, the Nobel Peace Prize jury has received 231 nominations for this year’s award, a spokesman said, with publicly disclosed candidates including a former Ukrainian prime minister and the U.S. soldier accused of leaking classified material to WikiLeaks. The secretive committee doesn’t reveal who has been nominated, but those with nomination rights sometimes announce their picks.

Names put forward this year include Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army private charged with the biggest leak of classified information in U.S. history, Russian human rights activist Svetlana Gannushkina and former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Being nominated doesn’t say anything about a candidate’s chances. A wide range of submissions comes in every year from lawmakers, university professors and others with nomination rights, but the decision rests solely with a five-member panel appointed by Norway’s parliament.

This year’s list of candidates is a mix of repeat nominations and new names, the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s nonvoting secretary Geir Lundestad told The Associated Press.

“They are from all over the world, very many well-known names and some that are not so well-known to the public,” he added.

The deadline for outside nominations was Feb. 1, but the five-member committee added its own suggestions at a meeting Friday, Lundestad said.

Last year’s prize was shared by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian women’s rights campaigner Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman of Yemen.

Some critics say the committee has departed from award founder Alfred Nobel’s intentions by broadening the scope of the peace prize to include efforts to promote the environment and human rights.

Earlier this month a Swedish authority that oversees foundations in Stockholm — including the Nobel Foundation— said it would investigate whether the peace committee is complying with Nobel’s will.

Kristian Berg Harpviken, the director of the Peace Research Institute Oslo, and a prominent voice in the Nobel guessing game, said his favorite for the 2012 award was Gene Sharp, an American scholar and advocate of nonviolence cited as an inspiration for the Arab Spring and other protests.

His other top picks were Gannushkina and the Memorial human rights group, and Nigerian religious leaders John Onaiyekan and Mohamed Sa’ad Abubakar, who Harpviken said have “spoken out against the misuse of religion in legitimating conflict.”

None of Harpviken’s favorites have won the price since he started guessing in 2009.

The Nobel Prizes also include awards in medicine, physics, chemistry and literature. A sixth award, the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics, was created by the Swedish central bank in 1968 in memory of prize founder Alfred Nobel.

Each prize comes with a purse of 10 million Swedish kronor ($1.5 million). The winners are usually announced in October.