The 2022 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to human rights advocate Ales Bialiatski from Belarus, and the human rights organization Memorial in Russia and the Centre for Civil Liberties in Ukraine. Ales Bialiatski is in prison without trial in Belarus since 2020, Memorial is being liquidated by the Russian authorities describing it as a “foreign agent”, while the Centre for Civil Liberties is actively reporting on war crimes in the ongoing war.
Peter Wallensteen is the Richard G. Starmann Sr. Research Professor Emeritus of Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and Senior Professor in the Department of Peace and Conflict Research at Sweden’s Uppsala University. He offers comments on this year's award below:
This is a clear statement on the war raging between these three countries right now. The Committee highlights the war from the perspective of civil society. It says to the decision-makers that by listening to civil society in their respective countries they would all be closer to Alfred Nobel’s vision of peace through fraternity among nations.
Ales Bialiatski has been active in the defense of human rights and democracy in Belarus since the late 1980s. He founded Viasna (Spring) to support jailed demonstrators and to document torture and other forms of repression by the authorities. He was imprisoned 2011-14 and is presently detained without trial.
The Russian Memorial has a long history of documenting the crimes of the Communist regime with the idea that “confronting past crimes is essential in preventing new ones” as stated by the Nobel Committee.
By awarding two prizes to forbidden human rights activities in Belarus and Russia, the Committee is making a contrast to the third one and to Ukraine, where the Center for Civil Liberties is very active today in documenting potential war crimes in the ongoing war. An independent and active civil society is a necessity for building peace and democracy.