On Wednesday, the names Donald Trump, Pope Francis, and Edward Snowden were mentioned in the same breath for possibly the first time, as all three were reportedly nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. In looking back at past Peace Prize medal also-rans (a list that includes Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Juan Perón, Rush Limbaugh, and Bono), you have to wonder: Can anyone — including, say, a billionaire who really likes owning things made out of gold — just email the Norwegians and thus declare himself nominated?
No, but pretty nearly. Every September, the Norwegian Nobel Committee — which is separate from the Swedish groups that give out the science, economics, and literature prizes — opens the door to nominations for the next six months. They have criteria for who can put in a nomination, but it’s a pretty broad list, one that includes professors of social sciences, history, philosophy, law, and theology; directors of peace research institutes and institutes of policy affairs; anyone who has ever been associated with the process (former winners, former committee members); and members of international courts. So if your old roommate, say, teaches psychology at a community college in Colorado, you too could be a nominee!
No, Trump skeptics and peacenik hopefuls, you are not allowed to nominate yourself.
The committee accepts nominations by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or letter. Nominators merely have to say who they are, name a candidate, and explain why he or she should receive one of the most prestigious awards on earth. Surprisingly enough, the committee gets only around 250 submissions per year, for both people and organizations, and then creates a (presumably Trump-free) short list in March. Laureates are announced in October and receive the medal at a tuxedoed affair in December. The members of the committee are sworn to 50 years of silence regarding the nominees, so you will only find out who is nominated via “people familiar with the process.”