Pope Francis, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Syrian White Helmets and the architects of the Iran nuclear deal are among the oddsmakers’ favorites to win this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, which is due to be announced on Friday.
The award is given annually to a person or people who “shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses”.
The official list of nominations remains a secret, however the committee has said that there are 318 nominees.
Here are the top candidates, based on betting odds from William Hill and Ladbrokes.
1. Pope Francis
Pope Francis has been tipped to win the award each year since he became Pope in 2013. This year he has continued to be vocal in calls for compassion towards refugees and migrants, and is a progressive voice in the Catholic Church, a historically conservative organisation. He was TIME’s Person of the Year in 2013. British betting company William Hill told TIME that Francis had received more bets than any other candidate.
2. Angela Merkel
In the years since German Chancellor announced that she would allow one million refugees into Germany during the height of Europe’s refugee crisis in 2015, she has been high on the list of Nobel favorites. This year she said she had no regrets about the policy despite the political cost, which was made manifest in last month’s German elections where she came out with a reduced majority. In 2015, TIME named her Person of the Year.
3. White Helmets
Widely predicted to win the prize last year, only to be pipped by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, the White Helmets or the Syria Civil Defense are a volunteer organisation that came to prominence pulling civilians from bombed-out buildings in Syria. Named after the iconic white helmets that are often their only protection, the group claims to have saved 99,000 lives since the Syrian civil war began in 2011.
4. Federica Mogherini & Mohammad Javad
The EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and her Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad are the architects of the Iran nuclear agreement, a deal reached in 2015 that de-escalated tensions between the U.S. and Iran over the latter’s nuclear program. Under the agreement, Iran agreed to eliminate its stockpile of potentially weaponizable uranium, and allow international observers to oversee the country’s nuclear program, in exchange for the lifting of nuclear-related sanctions.
An outsider choice with 5/1 odds from Ladbrokes is the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the regional union who this January intervened in Gambia to ensure a peaceful transition of power after the incumbent president of 22 years, Yahyah Jammeh, refused to relinquish power to democratically elected Adama Barrow. The military intervention forced Jammeh to step down and go into exile, with a number of troops remaining to assist Barrow with his consolidation of power and establishing Gambia’s new democratically elected government. The intervention was bloodless, although a number of people fled the political instability in the Gambia during the crisis. The last troops are expected to leave the Gambia this year.
The Nobel Peace Prize is announced at 6am E.T. on Friday.
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