Lauren Marie Diawatan
The World Food Programme recently won the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize for its contributions in combating global food insecurity, writes Al Jazeera. Berit Reiss-Andersen, the chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, said “In the face of the pandemic, the World Food Programme has demonstrated an impressive ability to intensify its efforts,” according to The New York Times. “The combination of violent conflict and the pandemic has led to a dramatic rise in the number of people living on the brink of starvation,” she further mentioned during the announcement of the prize in Oslo. In a United Nations press release, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated that he is “delighted” by the award given to WFP, commending the agency members who “brave danger and distance to deliver life-saving sustenance.”
According to The Nobel Prize, Alfred Nobel signed his last will in Paris on November 27, 1895. He wrote that his estate was “to constitute a fund, during the preceding year, have conferred the great benefit to humankind.” It was five years after his death in 1896, that the first Nobel Prize was awarded in 1901. The Prize has not been awarded on 19 occasions, reports The Indian Express. There were 318 candidates for the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize, with 211 individuals and 107 organizations. All living persons and active organizations are eligible for the Nobel Peace Prize, and the Nobel Committee makes their decision at the their last meeting before the October announcement, writes The Nobel Peace Prize.
The UN World Food Program was established in 1961 with the direction of U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower, according to The Indian Express. WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian organization and serves as the United Nations’ main agency in pursuing the eradication of world hunger – one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. According to the WFP, the organization assisted 97 million people in 88 countries in 2019 and they distribute more than 15 billion rations every year. WFP assists by providing food or meeting needs through cash-based transfers. The organization aided people affected by the Ebola outbreak in 2014 and the Nepal earthquake survivors in 2015. Hunger is estimated by undernourishment, defined by the UN as individuals who consume below the level of dietary energy requirements, The Indian Express further says.
The UN organization has faced issues funding one of its largest operations in South Sudan, as seasonal rains and conflict have affected food availability. Most recently, WFP began a campaign to fund its Yemen operations, as the country currently faces severe conflict contributing to the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. Critics have, however, accused the agency of “offering contracts to major donors in what has come to be known as ‘tied aid or the practice of tying humanitarian donations to purchasing contracts, according to The New York Times.
The Associate Press says that the Nobel Prize recognition comes as the United States, under President Trump, has withdrawn from multiple United Nations agencies, including the Human Rights UNESCO. President Trump has criticized the World Health Organization, another UN agency, for its response to the coronavirus pandemic. The Trump administration announced that the United States will leave the World Health Organization in July.
WFP is spearheaded by Executive Director David Beasley, a Republican and former South Carolina Governor, nominated by President Trump. Beasley told The Associated Press, “I know I’m not deserving of an award like this – but all the men and women around the world in the World Food Program and our partners who put their lives on the line every day to help those in need, that is inspiring and encouraging.”