The Black Lives Matter movement has been nominated for the 2021 Nobel peace prize for the way it involves systemic change that has spread around the world.
In his nomination papers, the Norwegian MP Petter Eide said the movement had forced countries outside the US to grapple with racism within their own societies.
“I find that one among the key challenges we’ve seen in America, but also in Europe and Asia, is that the quite increasing conflict supported inequality,” Eide said. “Black Lives Matter has become a really important worldwide movement to fight racial injustice.
“They have had an incredible achievement in raising global awareness and consciousness about racial injustice
Eide, who has previously nominated human rights activists from Russia and China for the prize, said one other thing that impressed him about the Black Lives Matter movement was the way “they are ready to mobilize people from all groups of society, not just African-Americans, not just oppressed people, it’s been a broad movement, during a way which has been different from their predecessors.”
The Black Lives Matter movement was co-founded in 2013 by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi in response to the acquittal within the US of the person who shot Trayvon Martin. It gained wider recognition in 2014 following protests over the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner and was the wellspring of a series of worldwide protests in 2020 following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
Nominations for the Nobel peace prize are accepted by any politician serving at a national level, and that they are allowed just 2,000 words to state their case. The deadline for this year’s submission is 1 February, and by the top of March, the committee prepares a shortlist. The winner is chosen in October and therefore the award ceremony is scheduled for 10 December. there have been quite 300 nominations for last year’s award, which was ultimately won by the planet Food Programme.
The committee awarded the WFP because it wanted to “turn the eyes of the planet to the many people that suffer from or face the threat of hunger”, but perhaps the foremost status nomination last year was for former US President Donald Trump.
Trump was nominated for a second time by another Norwegian MP, Christian Tybring-Gjedde. The far-right MP cited Trump’s role in normalizing relations between Israel and therefore the United Arab Emirates under the Abraham Accords, although Eide said he had “a little difficulty defending that nomination” after the Capitol riot of 6 January when a pro-Trump mob stormed the Congress buildings and five people died.
Eide, however, said he didn’t want his nomination for Black Lives interest to be seen as a discussion of domestic US politics. And he dismissed criticism from right-wing voices that the group had been behind violence in US cities. “Studies have shown that the majority of the demonstrations organized by Black Lives Matter are peaceful,” he said. “Of course there are incidents, but most of them are caused by the activities of either the police or counter-protestors.”
Data assembled by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data project in September 2020 showed that 93% of Black Lives Matter demonstrations involved no serious harm to people or property.
The 61-year-old politician, who has represented the Socialist Left party in parliament since 2017, cited precedents of the Oslo-based Nobel prize committee recognizing the battle against racism. Albert Luthuli and Mandela received the prize in 1960 and 1993 respectively for advocating against racism in South Africa, and Luther King was awarded the prize for non-violent resistance against racism within the US in 1964. Mandela shared his award with FW de Klerk, the person who ordered the ANC leader’s release from prison.
“There is really a practice for doing this,” Eide said. “It’s a robust linkage between antiracism movements and peace, and a recognition that without this type of justice, there’ll be no peace and stability within the society.”
His written nomination concludes: “Awarding the peace prize to Black Lives Matter, because the strongest global force against racial injustice, will send a strong message that peace is founded on equality, solidarity and human rights which all countries must respect those basic principles.”