We're just hours away from knowing who has won the 2012 Nobel peace prize, due to be announced this Friday. While the selection process is famously secretive (nominee names are only released after 50 years!), rumours – and bets – are flying about the shortlist.
The smart money is on Gene Sharp, the American academic who literally wrote the book on nonviolent protest, which served as a study guide for the Arab spring. He's widely considered a top pick, despite sharing nationality with three winners this decade.
The second safest bet is Sima Samar, chair of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and longtime foe of the burqa. Other names on the short list include both Bradley Manning and Julian Assange of Wikileaks fame, and the Google turned guerilla media face of Tahrir Square, Wael Ghonim.
That's who is most likely to win. But here are a few names we think deserve consideration as well:
1) Srda Popovic and CANVAS, Serbia
Popovic is Gene Sharp's lesser known brother in nonviolent arms. The Serbian activist left his studies to become a central figure in the Otpor! youth movement that helped oust strongman Slobodan Milosevic. Both student and practitioner, his current organisation, the Center for Applied Non Violent Actions and Strategies (CANVAS), leads trainings on nonviolent resistance that helped inspire and equip the young people behind the Arab spring. But don't take our word for it: check out this video of him talking about his job, "traveling around the world teaching people to be free".
2) Svetlana Gannushkina, Russia
Amid the massive upheaval of an unraveling Soviet Union, Gannushkina founded an organisation to monitor the rights of migrants and refugees, particularly in war-torn Chechnya. She's also a founding member for Memorial, which helps document Soviet-era abuses and monitors current Russian human rights, and was even on the official government human rights council until she resigned earlier this year in protest. Many pundits say that the Norwegian Nobel Committee wouldn't dare ruffle Russian President Vladimir Putin's feathers by giving a nod to its domestic unrest. But in a country where speaking out can cost you more than a year's pay, Gannushkin's seasoned record defending human rights and healing social wounds is more important than ever.
3) Lina Ben Mhenni, Tunisia
Mhenni embodies speaking truth to power in the digital age. The fearless Tunisian blogger was one of the most outspoken critics of the first dictatorship to fall in the Arab spring, boldly publishing under her real name. She helped keep the eyes of the world on Tunisia's violent assault on its people and was the only person reporting from the ground when security forces massacred civilians. Her example helped turn the tide in Tunisia and inspires citizen journalists across the Middle East.
4) Mohamed Nasheed, Maldives
The Maldives is one of the smallest countries in the world, but its first democratically elected president is one of the world's most inspiring figures – check out this documentary about him. After years in prison for resisting tyrannical rule, Nasheed was elected president of the island nation. Recognising the threat climate change posed to his country and the world, Nasheed became one of the loudest voices for global climate action, holding a cabinet meeting under water to demonstrate the risk of sea level rise and making the Maldives the world's first carbon-neutral country. Ousted in a military coup earlier this year and arrested again on political pretense, Nasheed is undeterred, again running for president.
5) Frank Mugisha, Uganda
Mugisha is the leader of a gay rights organisation in a country where parliament repeatedly considers conferring the death penalty for homosexual acts. It's a dangerous environment, where even raising the issue can land you in jail, but Frank and Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) keep fighting for their rights – and winning. In 2010, 2011 and 2012 he worked with Avaaz to help defeat the "kill the gays" bill, and he's taking his message of hope and determination around the world. We've said it before and we'll say it again – give this guy a Nobel.
Who would you pick?
There are countless people and organisations doing amazing things to make the world a better place – it's tough to pick just one most deserving of the award (and last year there were three winners).
Who do you think should win this year's Nobel peace prize? Official nominations may be closed, but our comment section is very much open, so add your picks below.
Sources: Paddy Power, BBC, Independent, Indian Express, TIME, Canvasopedia, Avaaz, Moscow Times, Christian Science Monitor, Guardian, Al Jazeera, Island President