Unlike major Hollywood awards shows, where it really is an honor just to be nominated, the Nobel Peace Prize accepts submissions from a potential pool of thousands of nominators.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee, which selects the recipient of the prize, does not disclose the nominees or those who nominated them until 50 years later, leaving people to self-report their submissions if they choose.
After the deadline for this year’s nominations last Sunday, Aleksei A. Navalny, the Russian dissident leader; Greta Thunberg, the teenage climate change activist; and the World Health Organization were among the nominees, Reuters reported.
Also mentioned were Stacey Abrams, the former Georgia politician who was credited with increasing voter turnout last year, and Jared Kushner, former President Donald J. Trump’s son-in-law and adviser. (Mr. Trump himself was nominated for the prize in at least two years of his presidency — not counting two nominations that were forged in 2018.)
Reuters surveyed Norwegian lawmakers “who have a track record of picking the winner.”
The list of those who can submit nominations is long, including members of national governments; officials with international peace organizations; university professors of history, social sciences, law, philosophy, theology and religion; and former recipients.
The Nobel committee says the large number of potential nominators ensures a “great variety of candidates,” but the group is tight-lipped about the process and did not respond to a request for clarification about the eligibility of nominators.
In 1967, the most recent year available in the Nobel committee’s archive, 95 nominations were submitted (an individual or group can be nominated multiple times in the same year). The committee said there were 318 submissions last year, with a record of 376 in 2016.
There are few criteria for the nominees, and the process has sometimes been taken advantage of, for nakedly political reasons.
Famously, an antifascist lawmaker from Sweden nominated Adolf Hitler in 1939 in an act of satire. He “never intended his submission to be taken seriously,” a note on his nomination in the archives reads.
Joseph Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union, was nominated twice, in 1945 and 1948. Benito Mussolini, the Italian ruler, was nominated twice in 1935.
The selection process to determine a recipient is much more rigorous. The committee, which is appointed by Norway’s Parliament, deliberates in secret, beginning in February. The group narrows the submissions to a “short list” of 20 to 30 candidates before months of consideration. The recipient is announced in October.
The Nobel committee has stressed that nominations do not represent an endorsement from the group and “may not be used to imply affiliation with the Nobel Peace Prize.”
But Mr. Trump offers an example of how nominations themselves can be used to assume clout.
In 2019, Mr. Trump told supporters that he had been nominated by Japan’s prime minister at the time, Shinzo Abe, a claim that Mr. Abe would not confirm. (That year’s prize went to Abiy Ahmed, the prime minister of Ethiopia.)
Last year, after two European politicians said they had nominated Mr. Trump, the White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany called it “a hard-earned and well-deserved honor for this president.”
The 2020 prize was later awarded to the World Food Program.
Mr. Trump had actually been nominated by two right-wing Scandinavian members of parliament. But to his supporters, the nominators’ personal politics, or his slim likelihood of receiving the prize, were less important than the optics.
“Every day Donald Trump gets nominated for another Nobel Prize,” the Fox News host Laura Ingraham beamed on her show. “It’s obvious that Trump should get the Nobel Prize.”
At a campaign rally in October, Mr. Trump complained that his nomination had gotten less news coverage than his predecessor’s. (President Barack Obama was actually awarded the prize in 2009.)
“I just got nominated for the Nobel Prize,” he said. “And then I turned on the fake news, story after story. They talk about your weather in the Panhandle and they talk about this. Story after story, no mention. Remember when Obama got it right at the beginning and he didn’t even know why he got it?”
The award to Mr. Obama, just nine months into his first term, was greeted with surprise and puzzlement, even by the recipient.
“To be honest,” Mr. Obama said afterward, “I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who have been honored by this prize, men and women who’ve inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.”