Maëlyss Barranco

The Nobel Peace Prize from the perspective of a French person

The announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize 2023 from the point of view of a French person.

The preparation

When I received the accreditation for the Nobel Peace Prize Announcement, which means the official approval given by the organization to be present as a journalist, I knew I had to gain some knowledge. As a French person, I already knew how significant this event is, everyone does. Unfortunately, the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo is closed until next December. But hopefully, I was in Stockholm the week before the announcement, where a Nobel Prize museum remains. And as you may know, the Nobel Prize for chemistry, literature, economy and medicine are awarded in Alfred Nobel’s native country. The museum was full of effects that once belong to the laureates. To name but a few, there was the megaphone that the activist and journalist Tawakkol Karman (2011) used in Yemen during the Arab Spring to protest in favor of democracy and human rights or the bracelet that Kofi Annan (2001) bought when he was stationed in Cairo with the United Nation’s peace-keeping forces. The timeline of all the laureates lend a helping hand to picture the winner’s lives and accomplishments. Moreover, throughout the decades the diversity (or not) from a laureate to another can be seen at a glance.

The announcement

We arrived around 8:30 to soak up the atmosphere. Technicians had already settled their equipments under the bejeweled chandeliers. Flying doves were inlaid all over the ceiling. Green, gold, white and other peaceful and harmonious colors surrounded us. Only a few journalists, mostly Norwegians, were in the room. It was quiet. It may be because of the infamous Norwegian politeness or because of the solemn moment.

After a few tests, Opplysningen 99,3 went live and called us, the four reporters from Radio Nova, so we could answer questions for their audience. As I went first, I began by describing the atmosphere. I was surprised to see that after all these years, newscasters were still shaking will going live. Some of them welcomed us with a glance asking what we were doing here. But we focused our attention on the encouraging smiles of others.

Twenty minutes before the announcement, doors closed and the press officer reminded the journalists of the proceedings. At eleven sharp, Berit Reiss-Andersen also known as the chairwoman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, approached the rostrum. While she announced to the whole world, for the last time in her career, who won the Nobel Peace Prize, people in the room received a transcription of her speech. Most of the journalists were looking for some informations about Narges Mohammadi, the Iranian who has been fighting against the oppression of women and for human rights and freedom for all. One next to me even looked for a picture of her on the web. Some rushed on the terrace to be the first to comment on the news. Each media had the opportunity to have a moment with Berit Reiss-Andersen. When our time finally came, she took her time to answer our questions. We left anxiety behind us as we left the room and become forever thankful for this one life time opportunity. We then hurried to Radio Nova to share as soon as possible on Spotify what we had just covered.

The conference

The very next day, I went to a public conference held by the Norwegian Nobel Committee to explain their decision. On my way there I came across a group of Iranian people who manifested their joy by singing native songs. Unexpectedly, Berit Reiss-Andersen was passing by at the same time and stoped to exchange a few words with them.

The question I answered for Radio Nova the day prior concerned the impact of the nomination on the Laureate’s life and work. My opening statement was that one of the first thing they receive is a diploma. Accordingly, I was thrilled when they revealed it in front of the audience. We learned that the artist made the diploma before even knowing who was the winner. Thus, it was a foreshadowing since he painted a man and a woman embracing each other.

The announcement was followed by virulent reactions. Berit Reiss-Andersen entrust that the role of the committee was not to identify where the situation is worst but to identify who contributed the most to peace.

The conference ended with a panel discussion with Iranians. The Laureate’s brother appeared to live in Norway and soon became the target of Norwegian medias. He was among us to translate the video that Narges Mohammadi’s son sent. He said that he was proud of his mother whom he had not seen for 9 years.

The committee hopes that the Iranian government will released her so she can be awarded her prize on the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death. Unfortunately the Member of the Parliament Mahmoud Farahmand is pessimist. And he might be right as Iran already condemned the decision. The ministry spokesperson, Nasser Kanaani, said during a press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs « We noted that the Nobel committee awarded the peace prize to a person convicted of repeated violations of the law and criminal acts. We condemn a partial and political action. » (Le Monde)

Berit Reiss-Andersen stated that as a former criminal lawyer, she could imagine what the Laureate is currently going through in prison. This immediately reminded me of the question we covered the day before about the committee's subjectivity.

The prize is more broadly awarded to the whole movement that Narges Mohammadi embodied, to all of the women who are persecuted. It took three Nobel Peace Prize in South Africa before apartheid was abolished and it took decades before segregation declined. The poet, journalist and then author, Asieh Amini, also known as a Women Rights activist, hopes that it will encourage Iranians to take ownership of public areas as they now know that the world is not blind and that they have the support of the world. The country’s youth had already began to protest in their own style through pop culture by singing songs and making Tik Tok dances. However, the Journalist Moloud Hajizadeh who went to prison with the Laureate stated that Western countries are fake.

Maëlyss Barranco