A Sad Exit

The leader of the Norwegian Nobel Committee Thorbjørn Jagland and its secretary Geir Lundestad announcing the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize at the Norwegian Nobel Institute. Photo: Nobeliana.
Professor Geir Lundestad has done a remarkable effort to modernize and develop the Nobel Peace Prize. During his 25 years as Secretary of the Norwegian Nobel Committee and Director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute he has been instrumental in widening the concept of peace and guiding the committee to choose more women and non-westerners as laureates. The great majority of winners since 1990 have been applauded internationally. At the same time Lundestad has renewed the Nobel ceremonies and orchestrated the establishment of the Nobel Peace Center and the Nobel Concert.
All these efforts have been eloquently described in his latest book "The Secretary of Peace". He gives valuable pieces of information about discussions in the committee and draws unique pictures of laureates behind the scenes; but unfortunately he makes three serious violations:

• He leaks from the decision-making in the Committee thus violating the rules of secrecy adopted by the Nobel Foundation
• His characteristics of leaders and committee members are often hurtful and insulting
• His revelations may have created an atmosphere of uncertainty in the committee (but in the future the rules of confidentiality will probably be strengthened)

In the last part of his book Lundestad tells about a serious conflict between the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm and the Norwegian Nobel Committee. He argues against Swedish attempts to control the committee and turns down the possibility of foreign representation. At the same time he advices the Storting to elect more competent members without close ties to the political system.
Lundestad's book is a valuable contribution to the history of the Nobel Peace Prize. However, the conflict with the Nobel Committee could have been avoided if he had modified his descriptions and characteristics of committee-members and been a little more careful referring from discussions. In spite of all turbulence connected with the publication of the book the position of the Nobel Peace Prize is stronger than ever. The choice of laureates will always be decisive for the prestige of the reward. Lundestad's revelations will be soon forgotten.