No peace prize was awarded throughout most of World Wars I and II, and on a handful of other occasions. But the prize has frequently been used to highlight other ongoing conflicts, or to provide a beacon of hope when the world encountered grim times.
That question will have been key to decision-makers in Oslo, Norway, who were tasked with picking a symbol of peacemaking even as a bordering country wages war on the continent.
The conflict “would weigh enormously on their minds,” Smith said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky sits atop many bookmakers’ list of favorites to win the prize, and some companies also list as frontrunners the general population of Ukraine and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which has aided people displaced by the war.
But bookmakers’ odds are rarely a reliable guide to the victor, experts say, because they tend to overstate the relevance of topical events.
And an award that directly wades into the Ukraine conflict is considered unlikely.
“Zelensky is a war leader, and what is happening at the moment is war. You can admire or not admire the action he’s undertaking, but it’s about war and the armed defense of his country,” Smith said. “That’s a fact that should be respected in and of itself.
“Hopefully, the war will come to an end and they will make peace,” he added. “If Zelensky or somebody else can contribute to making that peace, then there will be time to acknowledge that enormous achievement.”