Donald Trump is currently synonymous with controversy, and his nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize is a recent example of this.. His nomination was announced amidst a surge in Black Lives Matter protests, debate on his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, and his campaign for a second term as president. However, this did not deter outraged reactions to this news. The real question is, does Trump actually have a chance at winning this prestigious prize? The answer can be found in the outcomes of past controversial peace prize nominations.
President Donald Trump was nominated for the award by far-right Norweigian politician Christian Tybring-Gjedde. Trump was nominated for his recent involvement as mediator in the Israel-UAE normalization deal, which aims to standardize partnerships and collaborations between the two countries. The deal affects Middle Eastern geopolitics drastically. The UAE is Israel’s first ally in the Gulf, with many more countries from the region planning to strengthen ties with Israel as well. Trump hosted an official signing ceremony which announced these secretive talks earlier this September (BBC).
Tim Wright, the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017, spoke on behalf of many US citizens when he argued that Trump’s nomination was not deserved because “he has fomented violence against his own citizens, abandoned long standing arms control agreements, and undermined multilateralism at every opportunity.” He also adds that “his few diplomatic initiatives, such as the summits with North Korea, have been little more than photo-ops” (Independent). This opinion has been voiced by many across social media, especially regarding his ignorance towards the Black Lives Matter movement.
Though being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize is an accomplishment, it is a lot easier than it appears. University professors (of certain subjects), current heads of states, cabinet members or ministers, previous Nobel Peace Prize winners, and members and advisors of the Norwegian Nobel Committee are only a few of those eligible to nominate someone. Yes, your university professor could possibly nominate anyone-- with reason-- for the Nobel Peace Prize, and their nominations will be accepted.
There have been many controversial nominees in the past, which is understandable given the massive amount of nominations which come in every year (for reference, there were 318 nominations for the 2020 peace prize). Some of those include Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin (twice, for his participation in ending WW2), Yasser Arafat (who helped finalize the Oslo Accords) and President Barack Obama. There have been four previous US presidents who have received the award, Obama being the most recent in 2009; but his nomination was quite the controversy. Obama was nominated just a few months after he began his first term in office. Many, including a large portion of his supporters, said he didn’t deserve to win since he hadn’t made any real change as president yet.
Another contentious Nobel Peace Prize laureate is Yasser Arafat, who was awarded for representing the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) when creating the Oslo Accords. One of the Oslo Accords’ main accomplishments was getting the Palestinians (represented by PLO) to formally acknowledge Israel's existence, and vice versa. The accords were viewed as a major step towards peace in the Middle East at the time, and as one of the leaders of the PLO, Arafat was given the Peace Prize in 1994. The controversy in this is Arafat’s role as leader of the PLO, which is regarded as a terrorist organization by many, including the US and Israel. Obviously, the Norwegian Nobel Committee determined that the value of the accords outweighed the bad image the PLO had, and ultimately gave Arafat the 1994 peace prize.
This is comparable to Trump’s nomination because Christian Tybring-Gjedde could possibly think that the outcome of the Israel-UAE deal outweighs Trump’s previous harmful actions, both personally and as president. Though this is possible, it is important to compare this to Trump’s previous Nobel Peace Prize nomination in 2018 for his help in the North and South Korean peace talks. These talks had more publicity and brought about more obvious benefits and peace in the region than the Israel-UAE deal, but this was still not enough for Trump to win the award. The Israel-UAE deal definitely affects geopolitics in the region, but the outcome of that change is unknown, especially with the upcoming US presidential election.
In summation, the legitimacy of Trump’s nomination is heavily impacted by whether or not his work on the Israel-UAE normalization deal brings lasting peace. If this deal does help encourage permanent harmony, then his chances at winning are higher. As of right now, it is hard to predict the definite outcome of his nomination. But, a look at history tells us that, if deemed more than a publicity stunt, Trump’s participation in the deal is a valid reason to truly consider him for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.