Morgan Tsvangirai, not the EU, should have Won the Nobel Peace Prize


The EU? Over a guy regularly facing down death-threats, bullying, and intimidation from one of the worst dictators on earth? Boo to the Nobel Committee for missing this obvious choice.

If they can give the prize to the drone-warrior with a kill-list (Obama) and an institution run by wealthy, comfortable lawyers, bankers, and white collar professionals, then surely they can give it to someone who every day is making a far more direct, personal, bodily commitment to peace and social change. In fact, why Tsvangirai hasn’t won yet is beyond me. It seems so obvious. (Yes, his personal life is somewhat chaotic, but I don’t think that is normally a consideration. Kissinger called himself a ‘swinger.’)

Here is a good profile from the BBC. Note how badly he got beaten up by the thugs of President Robert Mugabe in 2007. He’s be charged with treason multiple times, and his party, the Movement for Democratic Change, has been harassed from the beginning. That is commitment, far more than endless EU meetings about some treaty no one will read.


It is sometimes said that the committee gives the prize either as a recognition for services already completed (Kim Dae Jung, Mohammed Yunus) or to encourage those in a position to deliver real change to stay the course (Obama, Arafat). I think the EU decision this year falls in the latter category. The problem with that though, is how speculative it is. I don’t think anyone believes anymore that Obama deserved that award given the drone war.

And giving it to the EU was more a way to tell the EU not to fall apart, rather than reward it. It’s obvious the EU is struggling, and it looks like the Committee wanted to encourage it to hang on and muddle through. The Economist makes the obvious point that NATO probably contributed more the European peace than the EU. And of course, Norway, the seat of the peace prize, isn’t even in the EU, having rejected it twice – making the choice even more bizarre.

But giving it to Tsvangirai would have been so much more useful. Zimbabwe is a lot closer to civil war and disorder than the EU. There’s (supposed to be) an election next year. A Nobel for Tsvangirai/the MDC might have helped with that; anything that eases Mugabe out of power in bloodless transition would be a great help. The possibility of bloodshed, even civil war, is real. The international seal of approval a Nobel would give to Tsvangirai might have helped restrain the likely thuggery and better establish the MDC as a legitimate political opposition, not traitors.

Terrible choice. Big missed opportunity.

7 thoughts on “Morgan Tsvangirai, not the EU, should have Won the Nobel Peace Prize

  1. Yes, Tsvangirai and many others would have been a good candidates, no doubt. However, there is only one Peace Nobel Prize per year and I do think that the EU deserves it, and here is why … plus some stuff about the use of drones as well

    NATO contributed a lot as well, but security is not only about hard- , but also about soft power and the fact that Norway is not an EU member does not matter at all.


  2. Yes I agree with you that Morgan Tsvangirai is impressive. And I have no doubt he has had to endure tremendous hardship in resisting Mugabe.

    But I don’t think he’s eligible for the Nobel Peace Prize. The Peace Prize requires that the recipient has achieved one of three things. 1) Greater fraternity between nations 2) abolition or reduction of standing armies 3) Holding and promoting peace congresses.

    As significant as his achievements may be – I can’t see how he satisfies any of the above criteria.

    The EU on the other hand has achieved ALL of the above criteria – and in a much bigger way than most Peace Prize recipients.

    I am not arguing that the Committee gets it right every time. Personally I think the prize should be awarded infrequently, when there is a deserving recipient that fits Nobel’s criteria, not just to satisfy the liberals of the day. But the EU is a deserving recipient.


    • By those standards those Aung San Suu Kyi should not have won either. The committee has lots of times before chosen to reward domestic reformers. Also, the EU is an institution filled with wealthy, healthy comfortable people whose ‘problems’ are minor compared to much of the world. It is euro-narcissism to for Europeans to reward themselves when need elsewhere in the world is so great.


      • Yes I don’t think she should have won either. It is a peace prize, not a prize for democracy advocates, no matter how significant their achievements.

        I agree that the prize would be best used to draw attention to the efforts of peacemakers in the poorest, most violent and most marginalized corners of the world.

        But that doesn’t make the EU undeserving. Those people are wealthy, healthy and comfortable in part because of the EU and the decades of work that went into European unity since 1945. That deserves the Peace Prize.


  3. Giving the Nobel Peace Price to the EU simply for the member states having not gone to war in the last 60 years (which is how most people are justifying it) represents the lowest common denominator reason you could think of for Europeans (of which I’m one) to award themselves a prize. By the same criteria it could equally have been given to South Korea and Japan or the US and Russia etc: or even North Korea as it hasn’t invaded the South since 1950! In fact, it could be given to the leader of any state for any potentially imaginable war which hasn’t yet happened.

    And, seriously, “Holding and promoting peace conferences”?!!.. Give it to any number of universities then, or anti-war demonstrators (actually most deserving): or China for hosting the Six Party Talks!


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