Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Algeria's president and the artificial world language of Esperanto are believed to be among the nearly 200 nominations for this year's Nobel Peace Prize.
The secretive prize committee released the final count yesterday, saying 197 nominations - 164 individuals and 33 organizations - were postmarked by the Feb. 1 nomination deadline for the prestigious award.
"This is the second-highest number we've had," committee secretary Geir Lundestad said. "The highest number was 199, in 2005."
The Nobel committee does not reveal who is on the list. Among the nominations are thought to be Kohl, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the Esperanto movement and Vietnam's monk Thich Quang Do.
Other candidates who have been announced by their nominators include New Mexico Gov Bill Richardson for humanitarian efforts in North Korea and Sudan, and a Colorado couple which founded the youth-based Peace Jam movement.
"We are very pleased that we are receiving nominations from all over the world," Lundestad said. "The peace prize has become more and more global."
While the deadline for nominations is Feb 1, the number traditionally creeps up during the month as late mail arrives or the committee makes its own nominations.
Lundestad said the prize committee had already decided on a short-list of contenders. He wouldn't reveal how many candidates were on it, but said the short-list typically has 30-35 names and is whittled down to about 10 at the committee's next meeting in April.
Last year's peace prize was shared by former US Vice-President Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for their work to raise awareness of global warming.
"I think they will try to find someone who is more directly linked to peace this year," said Stein Toennesson, a prominent Nobel-watcher and the director of the International Peace Research Institute-Oslo.
Source: China Daily/Agencies