2013 Peace awards

The peace awards do not always generate consensus. Last year's Nobel Prize, awarded to the European Union, generated a mixed response to a period of social and political crisis for the continent. The 2009 winner, Barack Obama, received criticism from a host of organizations and public figures for his involvement in wars at the time of receiving the prize. Even so, the response has been more positive to acknowledgements this year, awards that reflect the harsh reality of the conflict in the Middle East.

This year's Nobel Prize was awarded to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), an intergovernmental organization whose goal is to verify the Convention on Chemical weapons and work towards destroying existing arsenals. The Norwegian committee thereby acknowledges the organization's goals and their efforts to reaching an agreement to deactivate Syrian weapons used by Bashar al-Assad's government against the civilian population.

The Sakharov Prize established by the European Parliament, was of special significance for two reasons this year. This year's prize was awarded to the young Pakistani Malala Yousafzai, a victim of Taliban violence last year after setting up a campaign in support of women's right to education in the Swat Valley where the Taliban had forbidden women access to education. Despite receiving two bullet wounds to the neck and one to the hand, this young girl continues to fight for women's access to education without fear of threats from the Taliban. In addition, also in attendance at this year's award ceremony was the Burmese political activist Aung San Suu Kyi, who was unable to pick up her award in 1990 given that she was under house arrest imposed by the Burmese regime.