Should the Nobel Peace Prize Take a Break

The Economist suggests that the Nobel Peace Prize might want to take a hiatus.

Withholding the prize for a year, or possibly five, might seem rather callous. But the institute would not be suggesting that the world has become sufficiently peaceful now. Some do argue that wars are generally in decline. Last year a think-tank in Canada released a “Human Security Report” which noted that 100-odd wars have expired since 1988. Their study found that wars and genocides have become less frequent since 1991, that the value of the international arms trade has slumped by a third (between 1990 and 2003), and that refugee numbers have roughly halved (between 1992 and 2003). Yet, despite all that, there are clearly enough problems today—Darfur, Sri Lanka, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, international terrorism—to keep the hardest-working peace promoters busy.

The reason for the institute to withhold the prize, instead, would be to preserve its value. There is a risk that its worth is being eroded as the institute scrambles to find an eye-catching recipient every year. There is the problem of Buggins’s turn, an expectation (as with some other prizes) that the award should rotate between regions of the world. This year it is Asia, last year the recipient was from the Middle East, the year before from Africa.