2013 Peace Prize: No Nobel – but three cheers for Malala

Published: October 12, 2013
Portrait by Jonathan Yeo at the National Portrait Gallery in central London. Part of  the “Jonathan Yeo Portraits” exhibition, running until January 2014.  PHOTO: AFP

Portrait by Jonathan Yeo at the National Portrait Gallery in central London. Part of the “Jonathan Yeo Portraits” exhibition, running until January 2014. PHOTO: AFP


In the end, Malala Yousafzai’s own words proved prophetic. “I have not done that much to win the Nobel Peace Prize,” she had said 48 hours before the prize was announced.

She did not win – much to people’s disappointment – even though she was named a ‘favourite’ and was declared a front-runner candidate for the coveted award.

As everyone waited at 2PST for the award to be announced, the news of the UN-backed Organisation for Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) winning the prize was leaked a few minutes before in the foreign media.

The news came as a shock for most people as no one had anticipated an OPCW win – the little-known organisation was not even named in the top possible winners. Yet the chemical weapons’ watchdog picked up the award for “its extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons”.

While The Guardian mocked the Nobel committee’s decision, it congratulated Malala for failing to win the Nobel parody prize. Noting that Mahatma Gandhi had never won the award – despite being nominated several times – the newspaper said “perhaps the committee’s admiration for Malala was tempered by fretting that giving her the prize could see non-peaceful protests in Pakistan”.

According to a press release issued by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, “The conventions and the work of the OPCW have defined the use of chemical weapons as a taboo under international law.”

“The Norwegian Nobel Committee has through numerous prizes underlined the need to do away with nuclear weapons. By means of the present award to the OPCW, the Committee is seeking to contribute to the elimination of chemical weapons,” the Norwegian jury explained its decision. The jury directly criticised the United States and Russia for failing to destroy their chemical weapons by April 2012, as required by the Chemical Weapons Convention.

“Certain states have not observed the deadline,” the jury said. “This applies especially to the US and Russia.”

This marks the second consecutive year an organisation has won the prestigious award. Last year’s award went to the European Union.

In a statement through the public relations firm representing her, Malala congratulated the OPCW and thanked those who had pressed for her to win. “The OPCW is an important organisation working on the ground to help rid the world of chemical weapons,” she said. “I will continue to fight for the education for every child, and I hope people will continue to support me in my cause.”

Malala was hotly tipped to win the Nobel after courageously fighting back from a Taliban attempt on her life to lead a high-profile international campaign for the right of all children to go to school. Although she missed out on the award, she has become a formidable — and instantly recognisable — force for rights.

She received a standing ovation for an address to the United Nations General Assembly in July in which she vowed she would never be silenced. On Thursday, she won the European Union’s prestigious Sakharov human rights prize.

This week, in the run-up to the first anniversary of the shooting and the Nobel announcement, the global media spotlight has been firmly focused on Malala.

During her interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, she said, “If I get the Nobel Peace Prize, I think it will be such a great honour, more than I deserve, and such a great responsibility as well.” The show at a New York City cultural centre was sold out.

The 16-year-old has also published an autobiography and been invited to tea with Queen Elizabeth II, achieving an extremely high level of fame in a short period of time.

But sceptics do exist and loudly criticise her shooting to ‘stardom’. Some went so far as to term the entire incident of the Taliban shooting her a farce. Many ask whether she was even shot in the first place. Many social media groups have run anti-Malala campaigns.

Some are suspicious of her father, calling him overambitious. “Most people think this attack on Malala was a fake and a staged drama,” said Ibrar Khan, a political science student in Mingora. “Her father used this incident to go abroad and get an attractive job.”

Nonetheless, Malala has risen above all negativity and suspicion and is now the global voice for girl’s education, a universal symbol of survival and hope, as well as an upcoming political and social force.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 12th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (13)

  • Nadir
    Oct 12, 2013 - 3:51AM

    Is it neccesary to run down the winner of the day?

    The news came as a shock for most people as no one had anticipated an OPCW win – the little-known organisation was not even named in the top possible winners

    For one the OPCW is hardly “little known”, and second they were over 250 possible nominees and there were never any announcements regarding “top possible winners”.


  • Adrushya chanakya
    Oct 12, 2013 - 4:29AM

    Why does pakistani’s hate her so much? Poor girl in wrong place… She deserves respect. !


  • behcari-awam
    Oct 12, 2013 - 5:16AM

    Malala, we are so proud of you. Don’t worry about these so called skeptics. Whenever you raise your head above the crowd, you are the first one to get hit by tomatoes. My principle in life is that to be successful, just watch what skeptics are saying and do the opposite. We wish you great success in life and hereafter for all you are doing with your tongue and pen to counter these terrorists and their sidekicks.
    “Dartay hain bandooq waalay ik nihatti larki say”


  • Steyn
    Oct 12, 2013 - 6:09AM

    “I have not done that much to win the Nobel Peace Prize,”

    You have not done anything because The Media has done very much for you.

    Edhi deserves noble peace prize more than youRecommend

  • polpot
    Oct 12, 2013 - 6:32AM

    No one wins the Nobel at 16


  • Yousafzai Khan
    Oct 12, 2013 - 6:49AM

    That political science student, so prejudiced against Malala and her father, knows that when the Taliban unleashed a reign of terror, he fled from Mingora like thousands of others; he knows he couldnt have uttered a single word against Taliban while Malala and her father exposed them and put them to shame. So ya, it must be hard for him (and many more Swatis) to digest this fact and resort to some stupid conspiracy theories.


  • JD
    Oct 12, 2013 - 6:59AM

    I think Putin should have received this award. Imagine facing a war mongering super power in her prime antagonist mood, just moments away from starting a war (who’s president has got a nobel peace prize ironically), and this guy Putin, out of nowhere, through impressive use of diplomacy while maintaining the hardcore stance too, defuses the whole situation. That’s heroic.
    But anyways, the ‘little known organization’ did a relevant job to get this award. Great going.


  • M. Emad
    Oct 12, 2013 - 7:46AM

    I was surprised by the ‘Malala mania’ created by Pakistan media in last few months.

    The general Pakistani mentality cann’t properly do any logical or rationale analysis. Government (fauzi) propaganda, jihadi propaganda, education system, society, media etc contributed this mentality. According to Pakistani thinking a (Taliban) bullet-wound village girl should get Nobel Prize or a Jammat-i-Islami cadre, Edhi, who runs some charity Ambulences in Pakistan should get Noble Prize.

    On the night of 16 December 1971, similar unrealistic thought process in West Pakistan dreamed to win the East Pakistan (Bangladesh) Genocidal War. They only believed in Radio Pakistan propaganda and not news analysis from BBC, VOA, Radio Australia, Akasbani (India) etc stations. In fact, 93000 bangles (handcuff) wearing Pakistan Army War Criminals were already locked up into Bangladesh and Indian prisons by evening.

    Now that Malala / Pakistan – Nobel Peace Prize dream falls flat on the face of ‘hopeful’ Pakistanis — I expect common sense will prevail.


  • Humanity
    Oct 12, 2013 - 8:02AM

    An excellent piece.


  • Saman
    Oct 12, 2013 - 8:21AM

    Nobel or not…she is a symbol of courage. The real image of educated Pakistan.


  • GIndian
    Oct 12, 2013 - 9:08AM

    The fundamentalists who bullied her should be thrown into jail under child abuse act (if there is any such thing in Pakistan). Malala, wish you a happy and positive life.


  • Baloch
    Oct 12, 2013 - 10:25AM

    OPCW won the nobel peace prize the same year when chemical weapons were used in Syria, its really a question to the Swedish academy. Malala may not have deserved it but so did OPCW


  • Nar Pakhtun
    Oct 12, 2013 - 5:03PM

    @Yousafzai Khan:
    Nonsensical……. every1 fled including the little cherub’s father—a so-called revolutionary… your hero…Hosh k naakhun lo….Mr Khan


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