South Africa

EFF wants De Klerk’s Nobel Peace Prize revoked… but it can’t be done

EFF wants De Klerk’s Nobel Peace Prize revoked… but it can’t be done

EFF leader Julius Malema speaks outside parliament on why the party walked out of the National Assembly during President Cyril Ramaphosa's Sona, Cape Town, 13 February 2020. Picture: Jacques Nelles

The will of prize founder Alfred Nobel and the foundation’s rules do not provide for the possibility of withdrawing the prize.

The EFF would be making history if it was successful in having the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to former president FW de Klerk revoked, following his initial insistence that apartheid was not a crime against humanity.

It hasn’t been done before, as there is no provision for this in the Nobel Foundation’s rules.

The EFF recently indicated it would write to the Nobel Foundation to revoke the prize, with its former chairperson Dali Mpofu saying on Twitter that he would formally launch a “non-partisan Citizens Campaign” on Twitter to this effect, if they reached 10,000 retweets.

This was achieved in eight hours and Mpofu wrote: “I honestly thought it would take days! Thanks to the volunteers too… I’m told the withdrawal of a Nobel Peace Prize has never been done before. That is EXACTLY why we are got to to [sic] it! Lets go! #BringBackThePrize.”

De Klerk, 83, and late former president Nelson Mandela were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 “for their work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa”.

De Klerk received the joint award for his participation in the peace process, the Nobel Foundation said on its website.

The FW de Klerk Foundation has since officially withdrawn its contentious statement that apartheid was not a crime against humanity, and has apologised.

It has also agreed that apartheid was indeed a crime against humanity, as defined by the International Criminal Court.

According to section 10 of its statutes, “no appeals may be made against the decision of a prize-awarding body with regard to the award of a prize”.

This seemingly applies even if a petition or campaign were to garner a large amount of support.

In 2017, efforts to have the Nobel Peace Prize of Myanmar’s Aung Sang Suu Kyi revoked also proved fruitless. Almost 500,000 people signed a petition calling for the prize to be revoked in light of the persecution of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority.

Olav Njolstad, head of the Norwegian Nobel Institute, told the Associated Press at the time that the will of prize founder Alfred Nobel and the foundation’s rules did not provide for the possibility of withdrawing the prize.

“None of the prize awarding committees in Stockholm and Oslo has ever considered revoking a prize after it has been awarded,” he said at the time.

The head of the Norwegian Nobel committee, Berit Reiss-Andersen, said it was not their task to oversee or censor what a laureate did after receiving their prize, The Guardian reported.

“The prize winners themselves have to safeguard their own reputations.”

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