Shot in the arm

This year’s Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the European Union (EU), a decision that has kicked off celebratory cheers and biting criticism in equal measure.

The Nobel Peace Committee has said it is honouring the EU’s role in furthering peace in Europe over the past six decades. Indeed, Europe suffered three wars between 1870 and 1945. In the years since the EU came into being there have been no wars among its member states.

The EU has played an enormous role in facilitating co-operation between its states, in enhancing interaction among its people, as well as in forging a shared European identity and solidarity. However, it is evident that those who made the Nobel peace prize decision have taken a rather narrow definition of ‘peace’ into consideration. In their view, the absence of war means peace.  In the process they have overlooked the policies and structures that EU has put in place that have contributed to economic conflict and unrest.These could pave the way for future wars. Importantly, the Nobel committee has ignored internal wars, insurgencies and unrest in the EU’s member states.

Further while hailing EU’s work on securing human rights, it has overlooked the continuing discrimination, indeed persecution, of Europe’s Roma people i.e. the gypsies. ‘Fortress Europe’ i.e. EU’s erection of an array of barriers to the entry of immigrants and asylum is another example of EU’s narrow vision of preventing conflict.Over the years, the Nobel Peace Prize has ceased to be an award honouring achievement in the cause of peace. It has increasingly become an award that aims at empowering its recipient. Economic crisis in several European countries has triggered a wave of scepticism over the future of the EU. The Nobel Peace Prize at this juncture comes as a shot in the arm for a tottering EU.

For EU to emerge as a true peacemaking force, it must shake itself free of its obsessive self-interest. Europe’s security cannot be at the expense of others. For too long has Europe built its wealth through exploitation and oppression of others. This must change. The EU cannot achieve a sustainable peace and prosperity unless its policies secure peoples in other parts of the world. The Nobel peace award should set in motion a correction of its vision.

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