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22 February 2024

Student Life
& Society

VU students nominate NGOs from Israel and Palestine for Nobel Peace Prize

The group of Political Science students that nominated the three NGOs, state that ‘they remind us of our shared humanity and show the way to a peaceful and better future in the Middle East.’

VU professor Wolfgang Wagner specialises in conflict and peace studies, which gives him the right to nominate people or organisations for the Peace Prize. Each year, he sets up a workgroup within the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies to determine which organisation or person deserves his nomination. This year’s team consisted of Wagner, his colleague Marije Luitjens and four master’s students in Political Science: Fabiënne Blom, Paul Frigger, Melissa Gerritsen, and Annelies Reefman.

Women and climate justice

The workgroup discussed the history and politics of the Nobel Peace Prize and their understanding of peace. After a series of discussions and video conversations with the candidates, the group decided to nominate Women of the Sun, Women Wage Peace and EcoPeace Middle East. “These organisations are bringing communities together to build peace in the Middle East with a special focus on the role of women and on climate justice”, Wagner says. “They have been working together for years, and even though they’re under a lot of pressure, they’re determined to keep collaborating.”

Building bridges

Wagner and his crew organized a get-together at the auditorium of VU’s main building on 20 December, with the three NGOs joining through video call. Students and staff could ask questions during the Q&A session of the event, which was named ‘Building Bridges Against the Odds’.

In their official motivation that was submitted to the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, the group writes the following: ‘The Nobel Peace Prize of 2024 should go to representatives of civil society in Israel, Palestine and Jordan who have continued their work to bridge the deep divide between communities in the Middle East. They have resisted pressures to choose sides and have shown empathy and compassion at a time when they lost loved ones in the recent escalation of violence. They remind us of our shared humanity and show the way to a peaceful and better future in the Middle East.’

Three NGOs

Women of the Sun was founded in 2021 to foster peace and the equality of women. Together with Women Wage Peace, founded in 2014, they are collaborating to promote women’s rights. Women Wage Peace has grown to 45,000 Israeli members, making it the largest grassroots peace movement in Israel today. ‘Both not only advocate for more attention on the well-being of youth and children, but also for a gender equal peace building process. They demand for diplomatic negotiation, with full representation of women, to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict’, the statement says.

The third nominated NGO, EcoPeace Middle East, has been promoting collaboration to protect the environment in Jordan, Palestine and Israel and in the workgroup’s opinion they ‘seek to create the necessary conditions for lasting peace in the region and are big on educating youth and connecting different people.’

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