Who might win the Nobel Peace Prize? A look at the early favourites

If you want peace, prepare your ante post.

The annual Nobel Peace Prize award winner is to be announced Friday in Oslo, Norway, at 5 a.m. ET, and bettors and bookies around the world are placing odds on who the 2016 laureate, or laureates, will be.

Greek Islanders

Topping the list for oddsmakers are the Greek Islanders, a collection of villagers who rescued hundreds of thousands of refugees off the shore of Lesbos island in Greece. Many were fisherman who put their work and lives on hold to help.

“I wish this Nobel nomination wouldn’t exist for me or anyone else,” Stratis Valaminos, a co-nominee and fisherman who has guided dozens of boat-laden refugees to safety and rescued scores from the water, told CBC’s Margaret Evans.

“Wouldn’t it be better if all this didn’t happen at all?”

Swedish-based betting site Betsson had the islanders at 29-20 odds, while its Malta-based counterpart Unibet had them ahead at 5-4.

Baby arrives in Lesbos

A collection of villagers who rescued hundreds of thousands of refugees off the shore of Lesbos island in Greece have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. (Margaret Evans/CBC)

Juan Manuel Santos and Timoleon Jimenez

A peace deal between the Colombian government and Marxist FARC rebels ratified in September — that sought to end 52 years of war in the country — had 8-1 odds on Unibet and 4-1 on Betsson.

The deal spearheaded by Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leader Timoleon Jiminez — whose birth name is Rodrigo Londono Echeverri and is also known as Timochenko — took four years of negotiation in Havana, Cuba.

“Peace is the most beautiful of victories,” the FARC leader said when the deal was announced in September.

However, the peace deal was narrowly rejected by Colombian voters in a referendum in early October.

“I will listen to those who said No and to those who said Yes. Everyone, without exception, wants peace,” Santos said after learning of the results. “Finding common ground and unity is more important now than ever.”

Stratis Valiamos

Stratis Valiamos, a fisherman nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize after helping save refugees’ lives at sea, says the crisis is now part of daily life in his village. He says people can’t understand the scale of the crisis unless they witness it first-hand. (Pascal Leblond/CBC)

White Helmets

The Syrian Civil Defence organization, a group of some 3,000 Syrian volunteers who sift through rubble after bombings looking for survivors, led the Ireland-based betting site Paddy Power with 3-1 odds.

Though they have been operating since 2013, the White Helmets — as they are sometimes known, due to the colour of their headgear — gained worldwide attention after a video surfaced of the group rescuing a one-month old baby from rubble.

The NDP caucus voted unanimously to support the group’s nomination last month, penning a letter to Minister of Foreign Affairs Stéphane Dion urging him to make the nomination “an international priority.”

“Canada has a proud and long-standing commitment to human rights, humanitarianism and international peacekeeping, ” the letter reads.

“It is surely our place to recognize the selflessness, bravery and fundamental commitment to human dignity of these brave women and men.”

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Nadia Murad Basee Taha

Nadia Murad Basee Taha, a Yazidi woman who in 2014 was abducted from her village in Iraq by ISIS and abused as a sex slave for months, has been an outspoken advocate for ISIS victims and a critic of refugee policies that disadvantage them.

Speaking to the House of Commons in July, she recounted the horrors of ISIS captivity and slammed those who remained “silent.”

“We knew our destiny was for the men to be killed and the women and children to be held hostages,” she said, urging Canada to do more to help Yazidi people.

“We only want to live peacefully — that’s all we want.”

Betsson had her odds of winning at 6-1, while Paddy Power had 13-2.

Yazidi activist makes plea to Parliamentary committee2:27

Other nominees

No pope has ever won the Nobel Peace Prize, but Pope Francis is again a favourite, with 4-1 odds on Unibet and 8-1 on Betsson.

Denis Mukwege — a Congolese gynecologist specializing in reconstructive surgeries for rape victims and rights activist who runs a free hospital, which is credited with saving the lives of tens of thousands of women — has also been a longtime frontrunner. Paddy Power had him at 8-1, while Betsson had him at 9-1.

The Iraq Body Count project, which keeps a public database of civilian deaths resulting from the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, was 33-2 on Betsson and 20-1 on Paddy Power.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s odds were 10-1 with Paddy Power and 6-1 with Betsson.

Last year’s Peace Prize winner was awarded to the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet, a group that helped guide the country through a constitutional crisis and laid the groundwork for a new democratic government following the 2011 Arab Spring.

Winner of the 1994 Peace Prize and former Israeli president Shimon Peres died last month.

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