Undergrad nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

Undergrad nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

UNL's Kathryn Bolkovac is one of 276 nominated to earn a Nobel Peace Prize.
UNL's Kathryn Bolkovac is one of 276 nominated to earn a Nobel Peace Prize.

A UNL undergraduate is among 276 nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize forwarded to the Norwegian Nobel Committee for their consideration.

Bolkovac is a former Lincoln police officer and is widely known for her work as a United Nations human rights investigator in Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1999 and 2001. During her service, she uncovered military contractor and international peacekeeper misconduct, along with the facilitation of sex trafficking rings among her colleagues and United Nations officials. Her experiences were later the subject of the 2010 film “The Whistleblower,” and her subsequent book, “The Whistleblower: Sex Trafficking, Military Contractors, and One Women's Fight for Justice.”

Since that time, Bolkovac has traveled the world speaking about human trafficking, ethics and anti-corruption issues and has consulted on legislative policy and government accountability initiatives to change U.S. law and bring more accountability into United Nations missions and the use of private military contractors, who serve in police functions.

Bolkovac said she received notification of her nomination in late January. The Nobel Committee does not release an official list of nominees, but her nomination was publicly highlighted by the Nobel Peace Prize Watch, an organization that promotes nominees that honor what they consider to be Alfred Nobel’s original vision for the award.

Aslak Syse of the University of Oslo wrote in his nomination letter that Bolkovac was deserving of the Peace Prize, “for her continuing efforts to call international attention to the problems and abuses of the private military and security business.”

While “honored and humbled” by the nomination, Bolkovac said she had reservations about it because she, too, wants to honor Nobel’s original intention of promoting disarmament.

“In my view, Alfred Nobel himself was somewhat conflicted in his heart and head about disarmament issues," she said."This may have been the impetus for him to leave one of his prizes to individuals who would work toward demilitarization and gradual disarmament. I have very strong feelings about disarmament. I’m for disarmament, but not total disarmament. I think there’s a lot of trust-building and work to do world-wide before that could ever be done, especially in the face of today’s realities.”

Her past and current work helped motivate her to pursue a degree in political science at UNL. She is on track to graduate in May.

She said she hasn’t boxed herself into any one particular plan.

“I feel well suited to go just about anywhere with a political science degree,” she said. “I’m kind of a free spirit when it comes to what I want to do.

“My work will continue. It’s been a non-stop process.”