Rock stars Bono and Bob Geldof were nominated for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize along with Indonesia’s president, a former U.S. secretary of state and a Finnish peacemaker. That was the easy part. Making the Norwegian award committee’s deeply secret shortlist, already whittled down from the 191 nominees, is another matter, according to the nonvoting secretary.
“It’s easy to get nominated, but very hard to win,” Geir Lundestad said in releasing the number he compiled and checked after the Feb. 1 deadline for mailing proposals.
He said the committee has started pruning the original field of 168 individuals and 23 organizations. That is the second highest number of nominations ever, behind last year’s 199.
“It does indicate strong interest,” Lundestad said, expressing delight that nominations came in from across the globe, including countries submitting entries for the first time.
Geldof, former leader of the Irish punk group the Boomtown Rats, was nominated for organizing last year’s Live 8 benefit concerts, while U2 frontman Bono was proposed for his fight against world poverty.
“They are the typical kind of high-profile, celebrity nomination,” said Nobel watcher Dan Smith, former head of the Peace Research Institute in Oslo. However, Smith said the committee was more likely to use Nobel prestige to propel some lesser-known person into the world spotlight.
The 2005 award went to the International Atomic Energy Agency and its leader Mohamed ElBaradei for their efforts to control the spread of nuclear weapons.
The tightlipped committee keeps the names of candidates secret for 50 years. However, thousands of people have nomination rights, and some announce their choice. Lundestad said the list quickly gets reduced to a few names, which staff then study in depth. After four or five meetings, a winner is picked by consensus, and announced in mid-October.
The award is always presented in Oslo on Dec. 10, the anniversary of the death of its founder, Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel. The other Nobel Prizes are presented in Stockholm.
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