Nobel peace prize: the alternatives to Barack Obama

President Barack Obama won the 2009 Nobel peace prize. Here are five deserving contenders who were overlooked.

This Chinese dissident and pro-democracy activist had been widely expected to win the Nobel Peace Prize. An outspoken critic of the Beijing regime, Mr Hu was jailed last year for “inciting subversion” before the Olympic games. He is now serving a sentence of three and a half years. Mr Hu’s wife, Zheng Jinyan, saw him in prison in April and reported that his health is deteriorating.

Piedad Cordoba (Colombia):

A leading figure in the Colombian peace movement, Senator Piedad Cordoba has mediated talks between the country’s Right-wing government and Marxist rebels styling themselves the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Senator Cordoba’s efforts have led directly to the release of hostages held by the FARC in the rainforest. But she is a deeply controversial figure in Colombia and an outspoken critic of its government.

Prince Ghazi bin Mohammed (Jordan):

A scion of the Jordanian royal family, Prince Ghazi is a philosopher who has taken the lead in inter-faith dialogue in the Middle East. Prince Ghaz promotes reconciliation between the Abrahamic faiths of Islam, Christianity and Judaism. He has also served as a peace envoy for King Abdullah II of Jordan.

Zackie Achmat (South Africa):

This HIV-positive campaigner founded the Treatment Action Campaign in South Africa. Its goal was to force the previous government under Thabo Mbeki to provide life-saving drugs to all South Africans who needed them. Mr Achmat could afford to buy the drugs privately – but he refused to do so until the government offered them to everybody. The campaign succeeded in forcing the authorities to change course.

Community of Sant’Egidio (Italy):

The Nobel Peace Prize has sometimes been awarded to organisations, rather than individuals, notably the International Atomic Energy Agency and Amnesty International. In this tradition, the judges could have rewarded the Community of Sant’Egidio, an Italian Catholic organisation which specialises in resolving conflicts in the developing world. Its mediators have played a key role in ending several brutal wars, notably Mozambique’s civil conflict which ended in 1992.