A total of 318 nominations have been made for the2017 Nobel Peace Prize, the second-highest number to date, the Norway-based award committee said Thursday, a motley crew believed to include Syria's White Helmets, Donald Trump and Pope Francis.
The nominations include 215 individuals and 103 organizations, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said.
The record of 376 candidates was set in 2016 when the five-strong panel selected President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia as laureate, citing his role in ending a more-than-50-year-long civil war.
The Nobel Committee advises nominators not to reveal their proposals, and keeps a 50-year seal on the names. However, this does not deter some nominators from announcing their picks.
Nominees for 2017 include The White Helmets, a volunteer rescue group in Syria. They also featured in speculation last year as did U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden, who disclosed mass surveillance programs run by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA).
A shortlist compiled by Kristian Berg Harpviken, director of the Peace Research Institute Oslo that is not affiliated with the Nobel Prize, was topped by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and its president, Professor Susan N. Herman.
They have pledged to legally challenge controversial decisions by U.S. President Donald Trump's administration, for instance on immigration, Harpviken said.
U.S. President Donald Trump, nominated by an unidentified American who wants the U.S. leader recognized for "his peace through strength ideology," is also among the nominees.
Others Harpviken shortlisted were the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) that played a key role in the peaceful transition in Gambia, and Sri Lanka's president Maithripala Sirisena for his efforts to promote reconciliation after a bitter civil war.
Pope Francis, nominated by a Norwegian member of parliament because "he is one of the rare ones to stand up to Donald Trump", as well as Russian President Vladimir Putin and former French president Jacques Chirac and jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi are also among this year's nominees.
The peace prize, first awarded in 1901, was endowed by the Swedish inventor of dynamite, Alfred Nobel.
The Nobel committee, whose chairwoman Kaci Kullmann Five died of breast cancer on February 19, is expected to announce the 2017 laureate on October 6 though that date has yet to be confirmed.
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