Alexei Navalny, Greta Thunberg, WHO among Nobel Peace Prize nominees

Nominees include (clockwise from left) Mr Navalny, Ms Thunberg,  the WHO and its Covax programme.
Nominees include (clockwise from left) Mr Navalny, Ms Thunberg, the WHO and its Covax programme.PHOTOS: REUTERS

OSLO (REUTERS) - Russian dissident Alexei Navalny, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and climate campaigner Greta Thunberg are among those nominated for this year's Nobel Peace Prize, all backed by Norwegian lawmakers who have a track record of picking the winner.

Thousands of people, from members of parliaments worldwide to former winners, are eligible to propose candidates.

Nominations, which close on Sunday (Jan 31), do not imply an endorsement from the Nobel committee.

Norwegian lawmakers have nominated the eventual laureate every year since 2014, with the exception of 2019, said Mr Henrik Urdal, director of the Peace Research Institute Oslo. "The pattern from recent years is quite stunning," he said.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee, which decides who wins the award, does not comment on nominations, keeping secret for 50 years the names of nominators and unsuccessful nominees.

But nominators can choose to reveal their picks.

According to a Reuters survey of Norwegian lawmakers, nominees include Ms Thunberg, Mr Navalny, the WHO and its Covax programme to secure fair access to Covid-19 vaccines for poor countries.

Ms Thunberg was named as one of "the foremost spokespeople in the fight against the climate crisis", with the campaigning group she co-founded, Fridays for Future, also receiving a nod.

Mr Navalny, nominated by Russian academics, was named for his "efforts for a peaceful democratisation of Russia" by Norwegian former minister Ola Elvestuen.

The battle against Covid-19 is front and centre, including a nomination for the Gavi vaccine alliance.

Other names are Belarusian activists, Ms Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, Ms Maria Kolesnikova and Ms Veronika Tsepkalo for their "fight for a fair election and inspiration for peaceful resistance", one nominator Geir Sigbjoern Toskedal said.

Another nominator, Ms Jette Christensen, also named the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, a human rights group, and Iustitia, a group of Polish judges defending civil rights.

"My nomination this year is... for the fight to preserve democracy as a form of government in Europe," Ms Christensen said.

Freedom of information is a recurring theme, with nominees including the United States-based Committee to Protect Journalists, former Charlie Hebdo journalist Zineb el Rhazoui, news website Hong Kong Free Press, the US-based International Fact-Checking Network and Paris-based Reporters without Borders (RSF).

Other nominees include former US president Donald Trump, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, and United Nations refugee agency UNHCR.

Also on the list is Ms Aminatou Haidar, for her peaceful campaigning towards an independent Western Sahara, the International Space Station, and the International Scout Movement.

The 2021 laureate will be announced in October.