The Alfred Nobel peace prize Image Credit: file

Oslo: The winner of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize will be announced in Oslo on Friday, selected by a panel appointed by the Norwegian parliament from a total of 318 known and reported candidates.

Apart from the victor, the names of the nominees are officially kept secret for at least 50 years, but nominators — including former laureates, politicians and academics — often disclose their candidates. False reports are also common.

More or less likely nominations this year — both rumoured and confirmed — include Lions Club International, Julian Assange, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jo Cox, the Bulgarian Orthodox church, David Bowie, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump.

But Norway’s Peace Research Institute Oslo, which each year draws up a shortlist, and the betting markets have settled on a handful of front-runners.

Mohammad Javad Zarif and Federica Mogherini

The Iranian foreign minister and European Union foreign policy chief are seen as strong contenders as orchestrators of the Iran nuclear deal. With tensions mounting between the US and North Korea, the jury could choose to support a landmark effort to restrict nuclear arms development and proliferation now at risk of being torn up by Trump, who has called it an “embarrassment”. John Kerry, the former US secretary of state, was also a key part of negotiations but the Nobel committee could be keen to stress broad international backing for the deal.

The White Helmets and their leader Raed Al Saleh

A decision in favour of the group formally known as the Syrian Civil Defence, nominated several times in recent years, and its remarkable efforts to help civilians in a country torn by six years of war would be a popular award recognising vital humanitarian work and social solidarity in the face of a brutal military onslaught and extreme danger.

Can Dundar and Cumhuriyet

Now living in self-imposed exile in Germany, Dundar was a columnist and editor-in-chief of the secular, republican-leaning Turkish daily, Cumhuriyet, several of whose staff have faced charges of complicity in terrorism for simply doing their jobs. A prize for the editor and his former paper would be a symbolic blow against president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s crackdown on press freedoms.

UN high commission for refugees

The UN refugee agency has won two Nobel peace prizes in the past but none since 1981, and the jury may feel its work, led by Filippo Grandi during a period of unprecedented global migration and displacement, is worth rewarding. In recent years, the agency has responded to the Syrian civil war, Europe’s refugee crisis and Muslim Rohingya fleeing Myanmar. Angela Merkel has reportedly also been nominated for her decision to open Germany’s border to more than 1 million refugees and migrants.

Pope Francis

A favourite with at least one bookmaker this year. No pontiff has ever won the prize but Francis would be widely seen as a popular choice for his strong stance on issues such as refugees, poverty, social justice and climate change. He was nominated this year by a Norwegian member of parliament reportedly because “he is one of the rare ones to stand up to Donald Trump”.

American Civil Liberties Union

The American Civil Liberties Union has been particularly active since Trump’s inauguration, mounting repeated legal challenges against the US president’s more controversial decisions, including his travel ban and ban on transgender military personnel. It has described Trump as “a one-man constitutional crisis”.