The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Indian Kailash Satyarthi and Pakistani Malala Yousafzai.
At 17 Malala Yousafzai has become the youngest ever winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee cited the two “for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.”
Yousafzai, now 17, is a schoolgirl and education campaigner in Pakistan who was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman two years ago.
Satyarthi, 60, has maintained the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi and headed various forms of peaceful protests, “focusing on the grave exploitation of children for financial gain,” the Nobel committee said.
In 2012 the Nobel committee prompted a collective ‘huh?’ when the prize went to the European Union. It was unlikely that the committee would select an organisation for a third year in row.
Last year’s choice of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was similarly optimistic. At the time, the agency’s role in overseeing the destruction of Syria’s chemical arsenal offered a slim chance of finding a diplomatic resolution to the crisis engulfing the country. But the violence in Syria has only got worse with the US inventing and funding ISIS.
The Jagland committee’s choice was seen as an act of wishful thinking when it awarded the prize to Barack Obama in his first year of office. It looks even odder in hindsight as the US president has since launched multiple military campaigns in the Middle East.
Under Jagland’s chairmanship, the committee has chosen a high number of contentious winners. Its decision to give the award to the Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo infuriated Beijing. Jagland memorably presented the award to an empty chair in 2010 as Xiaobo was behind bars. Norway’s trade with China has declined since.
The Nobel committee prides itself on its independence, but it is chosen by Norway’s parliament and is made up of former politicians who are aware of the political ramifications of their decisions.
This year’s nominees included the US whistleblowers Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning, but their chances were thus slim.
“Giving it to [Edward] Snowden would run against all political instincts. He is, after all, considered a traitor to one of Norway’s closest allies,” said Kristian Harpviken, director at the Peace Research Institute in Oslo.