OSLO — The former governor of Illinois who spared all inmates on death row, Pope John Paul II, a Cuban dissident and Irish rock star Bono are among a near-record 150 nominees for the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize.
"We have a total of 150 nominees so far, of which 21 are organizations," Geir Lundestad, the head of the Norwegian Nobel Institute, said Tuesday after compiling a list of names sent in by a Feb. 1 deadline.
He said the list was likely at least to match the record 156 for the 2002 prize, won by former President Carter, because members of the secretive five-member awards committee can propose names when they meet next Tuesday.
Stein Toennesson, the director of the Peace Research Institute in Oslo, said chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, will be favorites if they help avert war in Iraq.
The $1-million prize, named after Sweden's Alfred Nobel, is to be awarded in October.
Lundestad did not release a list of nominees, but candidates whose names have been made public elsewhere include the European Union, the peace group Women in Black, U2 singer Bono, Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng, Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya and human rights group Global Witness.
George Ryan, the former governor of Illinois who commuted the sentences of more than 150 people on death row in January, is among the nominees, along with former Czech President Vaclav Havel and French President Jacques Chirac.
Analysts say it may be especially hard to predict the winner this year because three of the committee members are new.
Thousands of people around the world can make nominations, including members of all national parliaments, members of international law courts, professors of history, social science, philosophy and theology and former winners.