Nobel Peace Prize winners hailed for ‘outstanding courage’

The highly symbolic choice of laureates from three nations at the centre of the Ukraine war have spurred a flurry of reaction.

Oleg Orlov, a member of the Board of the International Historical Educational Charitable and Human Rights Society 'Memorial' (International Memorial), right, and Jan Rachinsky, Chairman of the Board of the International "Memorial", speak to media after a court hearing in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. On Friday, Oct. 7, 2022 the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to jailed Belarus rights activist Ales Bialiatski, the Russian group Memorial and the Ukrainian organization Center for Civil Liberties. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
Memorial board members Oleg Orlov, right, and Jan Rachinsky speak to media after a court hearing in Moscow, Russia [File: Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP Photo]

Reactions have poured in after human rights advocates Ales Bialiatski of Belarus, Russia’s Memorial group, and Ukraine’s Center for Civil Liberties won the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize.

The highly symbolic choice of laureates from three nations at the centre of the Ukraine war was mostly greeted with praise, but Belarus and a senior Ukrainian presidential aide criticised the choice of winners.

European Union

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen saluted the “outstanding courage” of the Ukrainian, Russian and Belarusian rights activists.

“The Nobel Prize committee has recognised the outstanding courage of the women and men standing against autocracy. They show the true power of civil society in the fight for democracy,” von der Leyen said on Twitter.

United Nations

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres congratulated the winners and said civil society groups were “the oxygen of democracy, and catalysts for peace, social progress and economic growth”.

“They help keep governments accountable and carry the voices of the vulnerable into the halls of power,” he added, calling on the world to support “the brave defenders of universal values of peace, hope and dignity for all” in the face of increasing attacks.

United States

US President Joe Biden on Friday congratulated the winners for championing human rights in the face of “intimidation and oppression”.

“This year’s Nobel Peace Prize winners remind us that, even in dark days of war, in the face of intimidation and oppression, the common human desire for rights and dignity cannot be extinguished,” Biden said in a statement.


President Emmanuel Macron hailed the Belarusian, Ukrainian and Russian winners as “unswerving defenders of human rights in Europe”.

“As peacemakers, they can count on France’s support,” he posted on Twitter.


The federal government in Berlin highlighted the three groups’ “exceptional” commitment to democratic development, human rights and civil liberties.

“They have opposed oppression and moves against peaceful forces in civil society such as we are living through in Russia and Belarus, in particular.”


A senior aide to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy voiced irritation that the prize was shared with organisations from countries allied against Ukraine: Russia and Belarus.

The “Nobel Committee has an interesting understanding of word ‘peace’ if representatives of two countries that attacked a third one receive the Nobel Prize together,” presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said on Twitter.


Belarus denounced the Nobel Committee for handing the prestigious peace prize to imprisoned activist Ales Bialiatski, saying its founder Alfred Nobel was “turning in his grave”.

“In recent years, a number of fundamental decisions of the Nobel Committee are so politicised that, excuse me, Alfred Nobel is tormented and turning in his grave,” foreign ministry spokesman Anatoly Glaz said on Twitter.

Belarus opposition

Exiled opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya paid full tribute to Ales Bialiatski, noting he celebrated his 60th birthday in prison on September 25 as he did his 50th.

“His story is the story of our country – a decades-long struggle for freedom. I am incredibly proud that he received the Nobel Peace Prize!” she wrote on Twitter.

Amnesty International

Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s secretary-general, said, “The Nobel Committee is sending an important message to the world – that it must support human rights defenders that have shown an outstanding effort to document war crimes, human rights abuses and the abuse of power in their countries.

“This message is sent at a critical moment when ongoing Russian aggression has led to a human rights crisis of incredible proportions in Ukraine, and the crackdown on any form of dissent in Russia and Belarus,” Callamard said.

“Amnesty International stands in solidarity with Ales Bialiatski, Memorial and the Center for Civil Liberties. All three are an inspiration and an example of courage and dedication for all those who carry out human rights work in Eastern Europe.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies