Peter Wallensteen on the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize

Author: Peter Wallensteen

The 2023 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to Ms. Narges Mohammadi, currently imprisoned in Iran for her work against the death penalty and involvement in the protests that followed the death of Mahsa Jina Amin in police custody a year ago. Mohammadi is honored for her efforts in the fight against the oppression of women in Iran and her fight to promote human rights and freedom for all. She has been arrested by the Iranian regime 13 times, convicted 5 times, and sentenced to a total of 31 years in prison and 154 lashes.

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:

“Awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Narges Mohammadi follows in the footsteps of Judge Shirin Ebadi, the Peace Prize laureate exactly 20 years ago. In fact, Mohammadi has been active in the Defenders of Human Rights Center founded by Ebadi and others in Tehran in 2001.

“This prize sends a strong message about the Iranian regime’s continued repression, encouraging the opposition by bringing attention to the role of women and the importance of non-violent resistance.

“As underlined by Berit Reiss-Andersen, the chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, this year’s prize emphasizes the importance of defending women’s rights everywhere and changing the trend towards authoritarian regimes. In his will, Alfred Nobel stressed work for the “fraternity” among nations. It is reasonable to say that this includes international transparency and universal respect for human rights.

“Ms. Narges Mohammadi is one in a series of courageous laureates who have paid a high personal price when pursuing a non-violent battle for democracy while remaining in their countries. She joins other Nobel Peace Prize laureates who have been awarded the prize while in prison. The first was the opponent of the Nazi regime, Carl von Ossietzky, in 1935. He was forbidden to travel to Oslo and later died in prison. Aung San Suu Kyi, receiving the prize while imprisoned in 1991, was later released and became the democratically elected leader in Myanmar. She is now in prison after a period in house arrest following the 2021 military coup. The imprisoned Chinese citizen Liu Xiaobo, who was awarded the prize in 2010, subsequently died in prison. One of the laureates in 2022, Ales Bialiatski from Belarus, is still in prison.

“This year’s Peace Prize accentuates the importance of global respect for human rights for a lasting peace with human qualities.”