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The peaceful 8 - the top contenders for this year's peace Nobel

Sahil Bhalla | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:46 IST

The Nobel prize for peace will be announced on Friday, 7 October in Oslo, Norway. The award is selected by a a five-member committee appointed by the Norwegian parliament appoints who then goes on to select the award winner.

This year, a record number of candidates - a whopping 376 candidates - are in the fray for the award. This includes 228 individuals and 148 organisations. However, the final nominees aren\'t released until 50 years after the award is given out, making it difficult to predict a winner.

While we won\'t know who the final nominees will be until the year 2066, this list will give you a glimpse into the frontrunners for the prize. Last year it was the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet who took home the peace prize. Who will it be this time around? Here are the 8 candidates most likely to win the award:

The White Helmets (Syrian Civil Defense)

To be a first responder in a place like Syria is a daunting task. It's something that takes a whole lot of courage and dedication. It's for those very reasons that the White Helmets are in contention for the peace prize.

The White Helmets are a group of volunteer rescue workers who have been at work in war-torn Syria for the past five years. They've rescued tens of thousands from the country's battlefields, running towards bombs instead of away and helping the wounded as bullets whiz by. By some estimates, they have managed to rescue up to 60,000 people.

Their selfless service has come at a cost - the group have lost 160 people so far, a number that only looks set to climb. They are pretty much the first on the scene of any airstrike, kitted in their iconic white helmets.

The 2,900 volunteers are united by one motto - 'to save one life, is to save all of humanity'. They've earned plaudits worldwide and there is even a documentary about them on Netflix. They are the clear frontrunners for the Nobel peace prize.

Svetlana Gannushkina
Vasily Maximov/AFP

If there is anyone standing up for the rights of migrants - including refugees and asylum seekers - it is none other than Svetlana Gannushkina.

Gannushkina is a Russian mathematician and human rights activist. According to some, she's been a constant contender for the past decade or so for her work fighting for the rights of migrants in Russia. Kristian Berg Harpviken, director of the Peace Research Institute Oslo, lists Gannushkina as his topmost contender for 2016.

"Gannushkina has initiated the Civic Assistance Committee , which offers legal aid and education to migrants. Gannushkina's current engagement for refugees is simply an extension of her life-long commitment to justice, equality and historical reconciliation. She was, for example, a founding member of the Russian organization Memorial, emphasizing the importance of coming to terms with history as a key to present day rights, democracy and reconciliation. Gannushkina has also been a member of Russia's Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights," says Harpviken.

Jeanne Nacatche Banyere, Jeannette Kahindo Bindu and Dr. Denis Mukwege

Three individuals, Jeanne Nacatche Banyere, Jeannette Kahindo Bindu and Dr. Denis Mukwege, seek out and help survivors of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The two women, Jeanne and Jeannette, have been at the forefront of this service since 2000. They've actively sought out survivors of sexual assault and provided them support. They also ensure these survivors receive the treatment and help they so desperately need.

Mukwege, on the other hand, is a gynaecologist. But, while he could have focused on building a lucrative practise, what he did instead was incredible. Mukwege set up the Panzi Hospital in Bakuvu, dedicated to providing treatment to survivors of sexual assault.

According to Harpviken, "Mukwege has personally treated thousands of women and is today a leading expert on repairing the physical damage from rape and sexual violence, and has been instrumental in drawing the world's attention to the brutality and consequences of these kinds of crimes"

Edward Snowden
Antoine Gyori/Corbis via Getty Images

Right now there's a massive campaign afoot to have Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency employee turned whistleblower, pardoned. That campaign could just receive an unexpected shot in the arm were he to, as some people think, win the Nobel peace prize.

Snowden is in contention because of the impact his actions had in bringing to light the reality and seriousness of electronic surveillance. The fact that his actions, which came at a great personal cost, have led to genuine legal and policy reforms, also paints him in the light of a a hero rather than a traitor.

In fact, the EU parliament had passed a vote in October of 2015 to "drop any criminal charges", and to grant him protection and prevent extradition. This was "in recognition of his status as a whistle-blower and international human rights defender".

Snowden was just played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt in a movie based on his exploits, but that achievement would pale horribly in comparison should he win the peace prize.

Ernest Moniz and Ali Akbar Salehi

Ernest Moniz, the US secretary of energy, and Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Iranian atomic agency, probably never thought they'd be listed as contenders for the peace prize. However, after their work negotiating Iran's peace deal with global powers, both could find themselves sharing the peace prize.

While there were many more people involved in the negotiations, these two were the lead negotiators of the pact and instrumental to its success.

"This year, I rather suggest that Ernest Moniz, the US Energy Secretary, and Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, are worthy and likely candidates. Serving as chief negotiators on behalf of the US and Iran, the two used their shared background from MIT to reach an agreement in spite of the differences and long-lasting grievances between their respective countries." Harpviken writes, calling it "A fine example of science diplomacy".

Pope Francis
Giuseppe Ciccia/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

A pope has never won the Nobel prize for peace before but if ever there were a pope who could, it would be Pope Francis.

Francis, who became the head of the Catholic church three-and-a-half years ago, has been winning the hearts of millions since. He's taken strong stances on issues like climate change, poverty, refugees and even homosexuality.

Angela Merkel

An unlikely candidate, but a candidate nonetheless. She was frontrunner for the peace prize in 2015 but it ultimately went to the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet. She did end up as TIME magazine's Person of the Year. At that time, she was championing the plight of the Syrian refugees.

In the past year or so, growing discontent with her leadership, largely due to her immigration policy has seen her slip to the fringes of the competition.

Greek Islanders
Getty Images

The islanders of Greece are outsiders for the Nobel peace prize. None of them are expecting the award. The islanders, have been nominated for opening their homes to Syrian refugees. This, despite the recent economic hardships they've been hit by. They've been nominated by Greek academics and the Hellenic Olympic Committee for the Nobel peace prize.

First published: 6 October 2016, 7:35 IST