Mahatma Gandhi: The Most Glaring Omission in the Nobel Peace Prize Awards

- By Geir Lundestad

OSLO, Jan 8 (Reuters) - Architects of European integration may have been deprived on the Nobel Peace Prize because of Norwegian scepticism, a guardian of the award said on Monday.

Norwegians voted "No" to European Union membership in referendums in 1994 and 1972, preferring to go it alone on a northern fringe of Europe helped by an economy buoyed by oil.

"Our special attitude to European integration may have contributed to the omission of this field since World War Two," Geir Lundestad, director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute, wrote in the daily After post about the prize's 100th anniversary.

Lundestad reiterated a long-standing view that Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi was the most glaring omission by the five-member committee since the first award was made in 1901.

"It is also possible that a person linked to European integration ought to have won the prize, even though the scale of the omission does not match that of Gandhi," he wrote.

Lundestad, who attends meetings of the committee but does not have a vote in choosing winners, did not mention any candidates who might have been overlooked.

He said the prize had won most prestige of perhaps 300 peace awards worldwide thanks to factors including the relative lack of mistakes by the committee.

But he added: "Most people will reckon that, among the 106 who received the prize since 1901, there are some who have not shown themselves to be worthy."

The committee has been accused in the past of sometimes handing out prizes to suit Norwegian foreign policy interests.By Geir Lundestad, Director of the Nobel Institute in Norway in an article in "Aftenposten" on January 8, 2001, the 100th anniversary of the Nobel Peace Prize.

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