This festive season, spare a thought for all the frustrated diplomats and politicians who have spent their time, if often in vain, trying to make the world a less bloody place in 2014.
This week brings the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo. This year’s prizewinners, the Pakistani champion of girls’ education Malala Yousafazi and Indian children’s rights defender Kailash Satyarthi, are both unimpeachably impressive honorees. Yet traditionalists grumble that the Nobel committee rarely recognizes the diplomats and mediators who engage in the grinding work of negotiating the end to civil wars: The last time an old-school peacemaker earned a Nobel was in 2008, when former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, who served as a U.N. envoy in Namibia and Kosovo, won the prize.
This raises a tough question: After a year that has seen peacemaking efforts crash and burn in Syria, Israel-Palestine and Ukraine, could any diplomat rightfully claim a prize? Perhaps a Nobel for “most frustrated mediator” might now be more apposite.