Jagland said to Dagbladet: “Everything that has happened recently has its background in giving the prize to Liu Xiaobo.”
Thorbjørn Jagland is unsure of his future as leader of the Nobel Prize committee. Photo: Terje Pedersen / NTB scanpix
China reacted strongly when the Nobel Peace Prize was given to Liu Xiaobo in 2010.
Jagland pointed out to Dagbladet that the Nobel committee elects its own leader. According to Jagland, this is meant to avoid the work of the committee being politically biased.
Jagland said: “Alfred Nobel's will stipulates that the parliament should choose the Nobel Committee's leaders. Once that's done, parliament has no say in who should be the leader; that's up to the committee.”
Jagland has come in for major criticism at home and abroad for some of the most recent Peace Prizes, including awards for the EU in 2012, Liu Xiaobo in 2010, and US President Barack Obama in 2009.
His position as secretary general in the Council of Europe is also perceived as problematic because of the risk of conflicts between the two roles.
From the beginning of 2015, Høyre and FrP will represent the majority in the Nobel committee with three of five members. Høyre's parliamentary group leader, Trond Helleland, confirmed that this year’s Peace Prize may be the last one handed out by Thorbjørn Jagland.
On the question of whether Høyre will use its majority to throw out Jagland, Helleland said to NTB: “Interesting question. We notice that the Labour Party says that Jagland is their candidate. At the same time, we know that Høyre now will get two representatives and FrP will get one. We will see what happens when the committee elects itself.”
The director of the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), Kristian Berg Harpviken, fears that Høyre and FrP will revert to an older selection process.
Harpviken said: “The way I see it, [the committee] has two options. The first one is to do it the old way and to pick prominent Norwegian politicians, so that they can fight for the leader position. This will only lead to further politicization. The other option is to pick people who are competent, both politicians and non-politicians, who may strengthen the independence of the committee.”
“I fear that they will choose the first option,” Harpviken stated.