Friday, October 13, 2006

Nobel prizes, Turkey and France

It would appear that the Norwegian Nobel Committee shares this blog’s view that there is something farcical about the whole idea of a peace prize. Let us recall the citation. The prize is to be awarded to
the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity among nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.
Well, failing such luminaries of peace congresses as SecGen Annan, Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton, the committee decided on someone who has actually achieved something though not, perhaps, anything to do with the citation.

This year’s Nobel Peace Prize went to
Bangladeshi Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank for their efforts to help "create economic and social development from below" in their home country by using innovative economic programs such as microcredit lending.
Microbanking may well be a very helpful development. Certainly, in that it emphasises individual entrepreneurship, private property and fiscal responsibility rather than feckless claims of aid money, it has a sense of purpose. One could even argue, as the Nobel committee did:
Lasting peace cannot be achieved unless large population groups find ways to break out of poverty.
Since NGO activity and large amounts of aid money are guaranteed to keep people in poverty we look forward to a complete ban of peace prizes or, indeed, any kind of prizes to those organizations. Nevertheless, we cannot help feeling that there is a certain desperation about the award. Best they can do, I suppose.


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