For many reasons, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky would seemingly be a natural candidate for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. He has not only rallied his people as Russia wages war against his country, but he has also sought out global leaders to support Ukraine during this darkest of times.
But there’s just one problem: His efforts have largely come past the Nobel deadline of Jan. 31.
Now, a group of European leaders are petitioning the Nobel Prize committee, asking it to reconsider the deadline and extend it through March 31 so that Zelensky and the Ukrainian people can be nominated for the honor.
“Although we are aware this is a break with procedure, we do believe that this break is justified by the current unprecedented situation,” said the leaders in their letter, which was sent earlier this month. “It is our democratic duty to stand up to authoritarianism and to support a people fighting for democracy and their right to self-government.”
More than 35 leaders signed the letter, including prominent officials from the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Romania, Sweden and Slovakia.
Nobel officials, based in Norway, didn’t respond immediately to a MarketWatch request for comment about the situation.
Certainly, Zelensky fits the profile of past recipients of the Peace Prize, including South Africa’s Nelson Mandela, who led his country out of apartheid, and Myanmar politician and diplomat Aung San Suu Kyi, who has fought for democracy and human rights in her nation.
Among the American recipients of the honor are former Presidents Barack Obama (2009), Jimmy Carter (2002) and former Vice President Al Gore (2007).
There are other candidates who could be considered for this year’s honor, of course. One shortlist mentioned such possibilities as Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, a human-rights activist in Belarus, and Nataša Kandić, a Serbian political writer and founder of the Humanitarian Law Center.
Still, the leaders behind the recent Nobel petition say that Zelensky and the Ukrainian people stand apart at this moment. And that recognizing them would send an important message to the world.
“The veneer of civilization is paper-thin, we are its guardians and we can never rest,” they wrote.