By awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousufzai, the Norwegian Nobel Committee is trying to give hope to the young generation all over the world and strengthening the hands of those working for children and their rights, says Committee chairman Thorbjørn Jagland.
He was speaking to The Hindu after announcing the prize at the Nobel Institute here on Friday.
“There is a global movement now to work against child labour and [for] right to education. We want to recognise persons who are behind it, promote them and give them more strength,” said the former Prime Minister of Norway.
Commending India on having banned child labour, Mr. Jagland said it was important that those working towards the greater good in the world’s largest democracy were honoured.
Taking forward the Nobel Committee’s earlier statement on a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, joining in a common struggle, Mr. Jagland said “it is important in a world with so much extremism to say that it is possible to work for a common cause [from] different backgrounds.”
On differing opinions in Pakistani civil society on Ms. Malala, he said it was inevitable. “Everybody working for human rights is controversial because they are challenging those who have power in different turfs. [Malala] is challenging extremist forces such as the Taliban who have denied young girls the right to education. So this comes as a challenge to them. We know that. But human rights is about confronting different forces.”
Asked about the criticism that has dogged the Nobel Committee over awards in recent years to the U.S. President Barack Obama and the EU, Mr. Jagland said many of the most famous prizes, such as those to Martin Luther King, Andrei Sakharov, Aung San Suu-kyi and Nelson Mandela, have been controversial. “So if the world wants a Committee that doesn’t take a clear stand… then it is not necessary to have a Committee. This is an independent voice in the world community and we have to act like that. Therefore, it becomes controversial. But not just in recent years, it has always been like that.”