The Student Peace Prize is held behind closed doors

The 2019 Peace Prize award ceremony was unintentionally described by one of its speakers: We’re having a dialogue without some of the most important voices present.

Tekst: Tomaris Semet, Mats Tveraaen

– We’re trying to solve some of the most complex problems in human history, but we’re excluding some of the most important people from the table. I would say hashtag fail, Alfredo Zamudio, director of the Nansen Center for Peace and Dialogue said in his speech.

Both the ISFiT president and Vice President were happy with the turnout of the walk.
Both the ISFiT president and Vice President were happy with the turnout of the walk.

Having said this, Zamudio unknowingly summarised the essence of the Student Peace Prize ceremony.

Happy with the turnout

ISFiT President Tyler Stewart and vice president Ane Vorhaug expressed delight at the turnout in one of ISFiT’s better known events – the Walk for Peace. Several hundred torches illuminated the streets of central Trondheim as the parade marched the streets.

– The turnout was fabulous. I was walking at the front and I couldn’t see the end, Stewart exclaimed when asked what he thought of the turnout.

Yet in the days ahead, there was little mention of the walk on social media, as there was no Facebook event and little talk of it.

– We accept critique on the lack of easily accessible information about the walk, Vorhaug said. She explained that the walk focused on volunteers and participants, and acknowledged the need to include a larger portion of the general population.

– It’s up to the next ISFiT president to decide whether it’s suitable to expand the walk, Stewart noted.

ISFiT participants and honorary guests

The Walk of Peace preceded the Student Peace Prize ceremony, where prominent figures of Trondheim, the participants and volunteers were granted seats.

– The Student Peace Prize is acclaimed to be a prize given by the students of Trondheim, from the people of Norway, to individuals working for the people, said Stewart.

Yet the attendees consisted of ISFiT participants and honorary guests, and the people the award allegedly was given on behalf of, were barely represented.

One of the achievements of this year’s Student Peace Prize was gathering all the past laureates, as well as Fasiha Hassan, this year’s laureate.

– Fasiha Hassan walked at the front along with Antero Benedito Da Silva, the ISFiT President described with obvious pride.

Despite the gravity of this achievement only 1500 guests were invited to the ceremony. Eleven of the world’s most influential students from the past 20 years, all walking together, all standing on the same stage.They’ve all been awarded a peace prize by and for students worldwide, yet the ceremony saw an apparent lack of regular students.

Les også: The Student Peace Prize - the past winners

Tear gas and rubber bullets

As Ingeborg Albert Rikheim, this year’s head of the Student Peace Prize, noted in her speech, these winners are people that went from common students in lecture halls to become award winners fighting against injustice.

– This prize is to shed light on those who fight to create a better world.

– This prize is to shed light on those who fight to create a better world, Rikheim said.

Throughout the whole ceremony, a frequently used metaphor was that of having a spot around the table for the unheard voices. To listen in order to learn and encourage dialogue across nations. Unfortunately, the Peace Prize ceremony served to undermine the point it was trying to get across.

We are not the leaders of tomorrow

Hassan’s parting thoughts were a call to action. To not stand by and watch as right wing regimes turn the clocks back fifty years, but to do something.

– We’ve tasted the tear gas, and felt the rubber bullets. All for freedom to study without the limits of systematic discrimination, she said.

She then rounded off her speech by returning to the analogy of the table.

– We can’t wait for a spot around the table, we must create the table ourselves. We are not the leaders of tomorrow, we are the leaders of today, she said.

The importance of this prize is impossible to overstate, yet it’s invitation only, behind closed doors. The prize is claimed to be by and for students, but it’s still fighting injustice from the same tables that we all agree need more seats.

Tomaris Semet has previously been a part of ISFiT. Ingeborg Albert Rikheim is a part of the Student Media in Trondheim.