Nobel, not so noble?

Dear European Union,

I know that you don’t particularly consider the guys on the British island a trust worthy member state, but I hope you still read their newspapers. I don’t mean just The Sun to satisfy your obsession with the monarchy, I mean you should look occasionally into the Guardian, even though its Euro criticism might annoy you and it makes fun of your Empress Angela.

This weekend I found two stories side by side narrating about narrow perspectives and global tragedies that you are still happy to ignore.

The two stories I am talking about is the bestowment of yourself with the Nobel Peace Price. The other story is about a candidate, who did not make it all the way to the top. A Nobel Peace Price nominee, whose name is unlike yours not a common household name. Is it because the majority of Europeans would have trouble pronouncing it or maybe because he has not the right European colour ?

I am talking about Denis Mukwege, who risks his life to help the countless rape victims in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He almost died this week on the hands of assassins in his home Bukavu in the East of the DRC. He survived because his loyal guard, whom he only knew by his first name Jeff cried out to warn him. It is suggested, that he was supposed to be silenced as a repercussion for a bold speech he gave in front of the UN General Assembly last month.

I assume, EU, most of your representatives were present during this speech, just in case you were out getting Starbucks. Here are the highlights:

“I would have liked to begin my speech with the usual formulation, “I have the honour and privilege of taking the floor before you.”
Alas! The women victims of sexual violence in Eastern DRC are in dishonor. […] I would have liked to say “I have the honour of taking part in the international community that you represent here”. But I cannot.
How can I say this to you, representing the international community, when the international community has shown its fear and lack of courage during these 16 years in the DRC. I would have liked to say, “I have the honour of representing my country”, but I cannot.
In effect, how can one be proud of belonging to a nation without defence, fighting itself, completely pillaged and powerless in the face of 500,000 of its girls raped during 16 years; 6,000,000 of its sons and daughters killed during 16 years without any lasting solution in sight. No, I do not have the honour, nor the privilege to be here today. My heart is heavy. The great principles of our civilization decline ; they decline through new barbarities, as in Syria or DRC ; but also through the deafening silence and the lack of courage of the international community. We cannot silence the truth as it is persistent. We should rather confront it to avoid betraying our ideals.”

Now I am asking you EU. Who do you think deserves this prize more?

You, who is accused of turning a blind eye to the world’s tragedies?

You, who is engaged in two official wars, internal upheavals and right-wing minority ignoring policies.

You, who excludes cultural differences rather than wholeheartedly embracing otherness?

Orhan Pamuk write in the same paper: “As the slogan of liberté, égalité, fraternité is slowly forgotten, Europe will sadly turn into an increasingly conservative place dominated by religious and ethnic identities.”

Does this sound like an institution worth of a Nobel Peace Price to you?

And what the heck are you going to do with the Price Money? Will it solve your fiscal problems? Will Emperor Angie Merkel really try to bank the Greek share of the price money?

Maybe you could take advice from previous winners: The American neuroscientist Paul Greengard created the “Nobel Prize for Women” to counter bias against women in science. Albert Einstein gave the money to his wife.

Don’t get me wrong, EU, I love you. I love our history and our ability to evolve and adapt and not get astray from our commitment to a Union even in the face of challenges. I think this is a noteworthy development especially after your troubled past, but I also think you are already pretty self-congratulatory. We have a flag, an anthem, you are in school curricula, plus every news outlet writes about you every day. Isn’t this enough?

The Nobel Peace Prize sadly missed the opportunity to highlight the often unsung and unseen heroes. The plight of a Congolese Gynaecologist for a world, where women can at least receive treatment for their ruptured uteruses despite the knowledge that they will never receive anything to heal their souls sounded like a pretty good cause to me.

How about you donate the price money to the Panzi Hospital of Dr. Mukwege? And maybe give a little bit to the family of the poor guard, who is now just another nameless victim of the Congolese War.


Your critical lover

  1. Very good article! I do think that the EU is a worthy winner of the Peace Nobel Prize, but I do also think that there are many individuals and organisations out there who would have been worthy winners as well. Unfortunately many of these are not even known and deserve much more attention. I have also written about that topic

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