SINGAPORE – Martti Ahtisaari is a great man. He deserves the Nobel Peace Prize for his life work. But it was a mistake for the Norwegian Nobel Committee to cite his work in Aceh as a reason for giving him the prize.
As a recent story by Agence France Presse put it, Ahtisaari’s “most notable achievement was overseeing the 2005 reconciliation of the Indonesian government and the Free Aceh Movement rebels, bringing an end to a three-decade-old conflict that killed some 15,000 people.” But it was Indonesia’s people and leaders who should have received the Nobel Peace Prize for the Aceh political miracle.
More fundamentally, the mentioning of Aceh in this Nobel citation raises serious questions about the mental maps used by the Nobel Prize Committee in making these awards. The committee members increasingly seem to be prisoners of the past. They continue to assume that we live in an era of Western domination of world history.
But that era is over. Increasingly, the rest of the world has gone from being objects of world history to becoming its subjects. By giving the Nobel Peace Prize to the Indonesians instead of a European mediator for Aceh, the Nobel Prize Committee would have recognized that the world has changed.