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Hua-Mei Chiu discusses controversies around this year's Nobel Peace Prize winner

Hua-Mei Chiu discusses controversies around this year's Nobel Peace Prize winner
(Provided by Teaching and Learning Development and Resources Center) Invited by the College of Social Sciences, Associate Professor Hua-Mei Chiu of the Department of Sociology gave a lecture on the contribution and the controversy around the UN World Food Programme, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2020. The event was part of the series of lectures on Nobel Prize laureates organized by the Teaching and Learning Development and Resources Center. The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to organizations or individuals who have made contributions to bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas or protecting human rights and the environment. Professor Chiu recalled the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize of the past 15 years and the causes for which they obtained it and explained the contributions of this year's Nobel Peace Prize winner and the controversies raised.

This year's winner is the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). Chiu said that in recent years, unceasing wars have caused the number of people suffering from hunger to be on the rise and that the WFP was awarded the Nobel Prize for its efforts to provide humanitarian aid to people in conflict-affected areas. Chiu pointed out that in war, starving people move together with military troops and some engage in sex trade to obtain food. The WFP’s actions effectively prevented hunger from being turned into a weapon of war. Another important reason for conferring this year's Nobel Peace Prize to WFP is the organization’s overcoming of the epidemic restrictions to deliver food. Chiu also said that one of the most memorable quotes from the acceptance speech by the Executive Director David Beasley on behalf of the WFP for her was: "Before vaccines were invented, food was the best vaccine.”

Areas where people starve are, of course, also affected by the pandemic, but before the people can address their most urgent needs, they need to eat. The achievement of people’s sustainable self-sufficiency after feeding them is one of the goals of the WFP. Professor Chiu said that providing food is only a short-term aid; the long-term goal is to achieve peace in the region and then, restore and rebuild the area for the community to recover quickly in case of the next onslaught. Both emergency relief and long-term goals are the focus of WFP.

However, conferring the Prize to the WFP has also generated a lot of controversy and skepticism. Some argue that WFP is paid to do its job, and that the Nobel Peace Prize should be awarded to other candidates who need it more, rather than to WFP, which already has a stable funding. What’s more, WFP's food delivery process has also generated some skepticism, as access to war-affected areas requires dealing with local governments and working with corrupt bureaucrats, and it is not certain that the food will eventually reach the needy, Chiu explained. Another thorn in the back of the WFP are sex scandals among the front-line employees; one happened just three weeks before the presentation of the Prize. The dark side of the Nobel Peace Prize also deserves public attention and reflection.

(Edited by Public Affairs Division)
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