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Thursday, 10 October, 2002, 04:58 GMT 05:58 UK
Nobel peace laureates in waiting
Every year the Nobel Peace Prize committee in Oslo has a unique opportunity to spotlight the achievements of an individual or an organisation.
Their choice is influential, as the award confers on laureates great media attention as well as moral force and 10 million Swedish kronor ($1.07m).
Previous winners have ranged from already famous political prisoners to more obscure peace groups.
The selection process is notoriously opaque, but BBC News Online's Jim Todd examines the chances of some high-profile nominees.
This year, many of the nominations are being seen in the light of the 11 September 2001 terror attacks on the United States, and Hamid Karzai is one of the beneficiaries of the ensuing war on terror declared by President George W Bush.
The Pashtun tribal leader was little known outside Afghanistan until the search began for a successor to the Islamic extremist Taleban regime which had harboured Osama Bin Laden.
He narrowly escaped death after entering the country to help engineer the Taleban's fall, only surviving after a US military helicopter plucked him to safety.
But instability in Afghanistan continues. He survived an assassination attempt in September and much of the promised aid has not materialised.
In some quarters Mr Karzai is viewed as an American stooge and his support from the US may count against him with the Nobel peace committee.
Stein Toennesson, head of the International Peace Research Institute in Oslo, believes the committee would like to give the prize to a Muslim this year, but thinks that the Afghan leader has not achieved enough yet to merit the prize.
"Perhaps there is too much support for him from the United States at a time when it is preparing for a new war," he told BBC News Online.
George Bush-Tony Blair
The US president and British prime minister have been nominated by a right-wing Norwegian member of parliament.
Harald Tom Nesvik, Party for Progress, praised their "decisive action against terrorism, something I believe in the future will be the greatest threat to peace".
One of the five members of the committee publicly criticised the bombing campaign in Afghanistan, even before the two leaders began threatening to wage war against Saddam Hussein's Iraq.
"I would fall off my chair if they got it," said Fredrik S Heffermehl, President of the Norwegian Peace Alliance.
US Senators Lugar and Nunn
Former Democratic Senator Sam Nunn and Republican Senator Richard Lugar are tipped as winners this year for two reasons.
Firstly, their 10-year-old project to safeguard the former Soviet Union's nuclear waste and its arsenal strikes a chord in Norway, which has a particular interest in environmental dangers not so far from its borders.
But some of the weapons stocks remain unaccounted for and the 11 September attacks and subsequent anthrax outbreaks have rekindled fears that some may have fallen into the wrong hands.
Secondly, the committee could be looking to encourage the voices of moderation in the American political elite, and Senator Lugar - a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee - has called on President Bush to seek a multilateral solution to the Iraq crisis.
War crimes tribunal
Two war crimes courts were inaugurated under United Nations auspices in the 1990s:
After an uncertain start, when it failed to net any important suspects, The Hague tribunal came into its own with the arrest and extradition of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic from Belgrade.
"Maybe next year, after the conclusion of the Milosevic trial," Fredrik Heffermehl told BBC News Online.
Nevertheless, the court could be awarded the prize - possibly split with its energetic chief war crimes prosecutor Carla del Ponte - if the committee thought it would boost the nascent International Criminal Court.
This tribunal - which is not expected to be fully operational until next year - has been hamstrung by American opposition.
The former American president has mediated in many disputes and conflicts, and his well-funded Carter Institute has a number of successful health programmes to its credit.
The 1994 deal he did with North Korea still holds, under which the then leader Kim Il-Sung froze his nuclear weapons programme in return for US help in building nuclear reactors.
"A compromise candidate if the committee couldn't agree," is Stein Toenesson's verdict.
This would be a sympathy vote for the people of New York after the devastating suicide attacks on the World Trade Center. The New York Fire Department has also been nominated.
The death penalty was abolished there more than 20 years ago.
The wild card. The frontman of Irish rock band U2, proper name Paul Hewson, has been much praised for his campaign to eradicate third world debt.
But it's just as likely not to be any of the above. In 1995, the committee sprang a surprise with the choice of veteran anti-nuclear campaigner Joseph Rotblat and his Pugwash organisation.
So here's some other names in the frame this year:
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