The Norwegian Nobel Committee is scheduled to reveal on Friday who is this year's Nobel Peace Prize laureate. The committee keeps a tight lid on its annual list of candidates, and the only thing we know is that this year, it features 331 individuals and organizations, the second-highest number in history (the record of 376 nominations was set in 2016).
While this year has left quite a few experts scratching their heads over who will earn the world's highest honor, bookies have already dropped some hints.
Among most oddsmakers, the clear favorites for the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize are two Korean leaders, the North's Kim Jong-un and the South's Moon Jae-in. The fragile peace process on the Korean Peninsula has significantly improved since the beginning of the year as Moon and Kim held three bilateral meetings that resulted in a joint pledge to reach a peace treaty. In what could be seen as a step forward in North-South relations, in April, Kim
Jong-un became the first North Korean leader to enter South Korea since the end of the 1950-1953 war.
Following the third and the most challenging summit, the North said it would "permanently" abolish its key missile facilities and potentially destroy its primary nuclear complex if Washington took reciprocal action. Moon has praised Kim's pledge as a massive development in denuclearization talks.
According to Ladbrokes, an online betting site, US President Donald Trump is second in the betting at the 5/2 odds of him winning. In May, a group of Republican lawmakers wrote a letter to the Nobel committee stating that President Trump should be nominated "in recognition of his work to end the Korean War, denuclearize the Korean Peninsula and bring peace to the region," which is pretty much the same reason the two Korean leaders are the likely candidates.
However, this choice might not seem popular to some as this year POTUS has also made some moves that have divided the international community: he pulled the US out of the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal and announced import tariffs that led to a trade spat with America's neighbors and trans-Atlantic partners.
An unexpected candidate has emerged in Spain: Ladbrokes puts Catalonia's exiled leader Carles Puidgemont's chances at 12/1. The former Catalan president went into exile in Belgium since Catalonia's parliament unilaterally declared independence from Spain in October 2017.
Moving the spotlight from individuals to international organizations, Ladbrokes is offering the odds of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees at 12/1.
The UN's refugee agency has already picked up two Peace Prizes in 1954 and 1981 in recognition of its efforts to repatriate refugees in Asia, Africa and Latin America. This year, the UNHCR said the refugee problem was greater in 2017 than ever before; the agency has been leading a coordinated effort to help refugees in crisis-torn countries, including Syria, Venezuela, Myanmar, and Yemen.
Online betting sites have another possible laureate Pope Francis at odds of 16/1. The Pontiff has been battling a series of sex scandals engulfing the Roman Catholic Church in the US, Chile, Germany, Ireland, and Australia. However, opinion polls say that Catholics are losing confidence in Pope Francis over his handling of sexual abuse scandals, which has been criticized as too slow.
The List Goes On
Other possible laurates include Raif Badawi, a prominent Saudi Arabian blogger and human rights advocate jailed since 2012, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed who ended a two-decades-long state of war with Eritrea by agreeing to give up disputed border territory, the #MeToo movement that brought up women's issues such as sexual harassment and assault, escaped Daesh* sex slave Nadia Murad, and the press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders.
This week, the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine went to American immunologist James Allison and Japanese immunologist Tasuku Honjo for their discoveries in cancer therapy.
This Year's Laureates in Other Nominations
The Nobel Physics Prize was awarded to Arthur Ashkin of the United States, Gerard Mourou of France and Donna Strickland of Canada, "for groundbreaking inventions in the field of laser physics" leading to broad industrial and medical applications, including eye surgery performed with ultra-sharp laser beams
The Chemistry Prize was bestowed on US scientists Frances Arnold and George Smith and British researcher Gregory Winter. Arnold received the award "for the directed evolution of enzymes," while Smith and Winter — "for the phage display of peptides and antibodies."
Up to three nominees may share the prize which includes a gold medal, a personal diploma and a cash award (around $1 million or 867,000 euros).
*Daesh (aka Islamic State/ISIS/IS) is a terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.