Independent journalism about VU Amsterdam | Since 1953
27 February 2024

Science
& Education

From left to right: Paul Radu and Pavla Holcová from OCCRP, professor Wolfgang Wagner, and students Rogier Bakker and Helen Zotz

Students nominate journalistic platform for Nobel Peace Prize

Professor Wolfgang Wagner and his students have nominated the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) for the Nobel Peace Prize. “Their investigative works are often overlooked as a contribution to peace.”

Wagner specialises in conflict and peace studies, which gives him the right to nominate people or organisations for the Peace Prize. “I never exercised that right until last year, when it seemed nice to make a nomination together with my students. We then nominated the organisation IWGIA, which works with indigenous populations in various countries.”  

Background checks

For this year’s nomination, Wagner invited students of the minor Peace and Conflict Studies and the master Law and Politics of International Security to discuss the purpose of the Peace Prize and the criteria for good candidates. After collecting various ideas and doing background checks on potential candidates, the group had a video conference with OCCRP’s co-founder Drew Sullivan. Afterwards, the students decided to nominate the OCCRP for the Nobel Peace Prize. 

Exposing corruption

The OCCRP is a network that exposes crime and corruption by developing and equipping a global network of investigative journalists and publishing their stories. With their work, they want to contribute to a world where lives, livelihoods, and democracy are not threatened by crime and corruption. One of the students, Helen Zotz, commented: “It was a fascinating process discussing different meanings of peace. We wanted to highlight the OCCRP and their investigative works as an often overlooked contribution to peace.” 

The group was able to meet co-founder Paul Radu and investigative journalist Pavla Holcová, as the OCCRP just moved its headquarters to Amsterdam. “The meeting with some of the staff of the OCCRP and the co-founder, Paul Radu, was highly interesting”, says student Rogier Bakker. “They shared their views with us on the most efficient way to fight global corruption and crime. The meeting strengthened my belief that they are worthy of this nomination.”

War in Ukraine

Lately, the OCCRP has reported on Putin and his network benefitting from the war. Oligarchs have often made it hard for anyone to track their assets. The OCCRP tries to uncover their wealth and make it easier for governments to impose sanctions against them by publishing their assets in a database. They already laid bare 17.5 billion dollars’ worth of assets belonging to these oligarchs. “Investigative journalism is a public good, which supports democracy and peace by giving civil society a voice and exposing governmental wrongdoings and predatory behaviour”, Wagner concludes. 

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