2020 Nobel Peace Prize goes to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) “for its efforts to combat hunger, for its contribution to bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and for acting as a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict.” Interestingly 101 peace prizes have been awarded since 1901, out of which 69 Peace Prizes have been given to one Laureate only with 30 Peace Prizes shared by two Laureates. This year awarding the peace prize to the world’s largest humanitarian organization dealing with hunger and food security is a colossal step in bringing the issue to the world. It’s pertinent to understand the causality between hunger and food storages to conflict and vice versa. It’s imperative that every attempt be taken to stop hunger exploitation of people within the conflict zones and a global push is needed in this space.
Although the world has made strides in reducing hunger with a reduction of 300 million people compared to that in 1990-92, in spite of adding 1.9 billion people to our planet, a lot needs to be done. In 2019 alone, 135 million people suffered from acute hunger in 55 countries; the highest number in many years. No hunger remains one of the core issues among the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and yet 690 million people still go to bed on an empty stomach each night based on the figures shared by WFP. The award was recognition of WFP for bringing food to 100 million improvised people including children and women.
Today, the world in a very dangerous position as the pandemic accelerates the vicious cycles of armed conflict with the acute food crisis. The situation is deeply concerning in countries like Yemen, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, South Sudan, and Burkina Faso, which are already reeling under conflict and human rights violations. The pandemic has further aggravated the situation leading to an exponential rise in the number of people living on the brink of starvation. Nobel Committee with this award wants to bring to the world the plight of people especially in the conflict zones who suffer from extreme malnutrition. World Food Programme enabled the prevention of exploitation of citizens for food in conflict zones growing hunger around the world and how hunger is used as an instrument during conflicts. Malnutrition remains the number one reason for deaths of the children below the age of five years in developing countries.
The Nobel Prize for Physics was awarded to three Laureates for their work and discoveries related to Black Hole. Black Hole, one of the most exotic and yet least understood cosmic phenomena, this year’s Nobel Prize winners include Roger Penrose for his work linking the formation of Black Hole to the General Theory of Relativity and jointly to Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez for leading a team of astronomers which discovered a supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy. Stephen Hawking is known for his work on black holes, especially concerning Hawking radiation. Nobel Committee awarded the 2020 prize in medicine to Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton, and Charles M. Rice for their seminal discoveries that led to the identification of a novel virus, the Hepatitis C virus. Hepatitis C virus is a blood-borne virus that causes jaundice and leads to cirrhosis and liver cancer. Unlike Hepatitis A which is caused by food and airborne, Hepatitis B and C are caused by blood transfusion and have serious long-term consequences. The work of the three scientists not only led to the discovery of a new novel virus but also led to the discovery of post-transfusion tests which lead to the discovery of highly sensitive blood tests that eliminated post-transfusion hepatitis of the virus in many countries. Nobel Prize in Literature for 2020 went to American poet Louise Glück, in words of the committee “for her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal”.