Navalny, WHO and Thunberg among nominees for Nobel Peace Prize


FILE PHOTO: Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny speaks as he waits for a court hearing in a police station in Khimki outside Moscow, Russia January 18, 2021, in this still image from video obtained from social media. Courtesy of Instagram @NAVALNY/Social Media via REUTERS/Files/File Photo/File Photo

OSLO (Reuters) - Russian dissident Alexei Navalny, the World Health Organization and climate campaigner Greta Thunberg are among those nominated for this year's Nobel Peace Prize, all backed by Norwegian lawmakers who have a track record of picking the winner.

Thousands of people, from members of parliaments worldwide to former winners, are eligible to propose candidates. Nominations, which close on Sunday, do not imply an endorsement from the Nobel committee.

Norwegian lawmakers have nominated the eventual laureate every year since 2014, with the exception of 2019, said Henrik Urdal, Director of the Peace Research Institute Oslo. "The pattern from recent years is quite stunning."

The Norwegian Nobel Committee, which decides who wins the award, does not comment on nominations, keeping secret for 50 years the names of nominators and unsuccessful nominees.

But nominators can choose to reveal their picks.

According to a Reuters survey of Norwegian lawmakers, nominees include Thunberg, Navalny, the WHO and its COVAX programme to secure fair access to COVID-19 vaccines for poor countries.

Thunberg was named as one of "the foremost spokespeople in the fight against the climate crisis", with the campaigning group she co-founded, Fridays for Future, also receiving a nod.

Navalny, nominated by Russian academics, was named for his "efforts for a peaceful democratisation of Russia" by Norwegian former minister Ola Elvestuen.

The battle against COVID-19 is front and centre, including a nomination for the GAVI vaccine alliance.

Other names are Belarusian activists Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Maria Kolesnikova and Veronika Tsepkalo for their "fight for a fair election and inspiration for peaceful resistance", one nominator, Geir Sigbjoern Toskedal, said.

Another, Jette Christensen, also named the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, a human rights group, and IUSTITIA, a group of Polish judges defending civil rights.

"My nomination this year is ... for the fight to preserve democracy as a form of government in Europe," Christensen said.

Freedom of information is a recurring theme with nominees including the U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists; former Charlie Hebdo journalist Zineb el Rhazoui; news website Hong Kong Free Press, the U.S.-based International Fact-Checking Network and Paris-based Reporters without Borders (RSF).

Other nominees include former U.S. President Donald Trump, NATO and the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR).

Also on the list is Aminatou Haidar, for her peaceful campaigning towards an independent Western Sahara, the International Space Station and the International Scout Movement.

The 2021 laureate will be announced in October.

(Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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