Peace does not only come from politicians signing treaties, it also comes from exercising freedom
The Nobel Peace Prize has again surprised the world. The extraordinary award last year to US President Barack Obama, apparently just for getting elected, was followed this year by an award to a leading Chinese human rights activist, Liu Xiaobo, who was unknown to many people. He has been jailed for many years for his campaigning, and the Chinese government reacted angrily to the award, calling Liu a criminal.
There may have been a quiet international agreement not to press China on its human rights record but this award exposes that silence for what it is. The award reminds the world at large that all nations have signed the UN Charter, and promised certain basic freedoms to their citizens. What the Nobel committee has done is remind the world that durable peace depends on the spread of individual freedom, and other states such as China need to be aware that they also need to improve.