No Joke: Ursula Von der Leyen’s EU Commission Just Received “World Prize for Peace and Freedom”

Few political figures have done more to keep Ukrainians fighting — and dying in huge numbers — in a bloody, futile proxy war of attrition than Von der Leyen.

Last Friday (July 21), droves of high-profile international lawyers, NGO execs and politicians converged on the UN headquarters in New York to attend the closing ceremony of the 28th World Congress on Law, the flagship biennial event of the US-based World Jurists Association (WJA). During the event the King of Spain Felipe VI and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau* presented EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (whom I shall henceforth refer to as VdL) with the “World Prize for Peace and Freedom,” which she received on behalf of the institution she fronts.

VdL began her acceptance speech by outlining the EU’s long, storied history of supporting peace in Europe:

When World War II ended, Europe was in ruin and ashes, and European countries mortal enemies. Five of them decided to forgive. Not to forget, but to forgive. They stretched out their hand to Germany and others, and over time invited them back into the circle of democracies. Under one condition: to do everything necessary for a just and lasting peace, grounded on the rule of law…

The story of our Union is one of democracies, young and old, getting stronger together. It is the story of Germany’s and Italy’s rebirth after the war. It is the story of Spain’s, Portugal’s and Greece’s path from dictatorship to democracy. It is the story of democratic renaissance after the fall of the Iron Curtain. And the next chapter in this story is being written today – in Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, as well as in the Western Balkans.

A Bizarre Choice

While the EU may have played an important role in fostering peace in Europe during its formative years, today’s EU Commission makes for a bizarre choice for a peace and freedom award, given:

  1. It is a participant in the proxy war taking place in Ukraine and has been directly arming the Ukrainian forces through its Orwellian-dubbed European Peace Facility (more on that later);
  2. It has imposed eleven rounds of largely self-maiming sanctions on Russia that have crippled German and Italian industry and are undermining the economic health of the entire EU bloc;
  3. It has also not exactly been a staunch defender of freedom in recent years. For a start, in June 2021 it implemented the “Green Pass” vaccine passport, which was used by EU Member governments to deprive millions of unvaccinated EU citizens of their basic rights and freedoms on the basis of a vaccine that did not prevent transmission of COVID-19 and which the World Health Organization would now like to turn into a global standard. It is also about to declare all-out war on freedom of speech on the Internet.

The World Congress on Law is sometimes referred to as the “Davos of Law”. Its World Prize for Peace and Freedom is the WJA’s highest honour, given to individuals or institutions that have apparently distinguished themselves in promoting “peace through the rule of law.” It is sometimes described as the Nobel Prize of international law.

That is probably less of a complement than intended. After all, the real Nobel Peace Prize has  been awarded both to peacemakers and serial warmongers alike, including, most notoriously, Henry Kissinger, for his contribution to “ending the war and restoring the peace in Vietnam.” Barack Obama also picked up a Nobel for doing literally nothing during his first nine months in office. He would then go on to sow mayhem in at least seven countries, in the process authorising ten times more drone strikes than his predecessor, George W Bush, including against US citizens.[2]

Likewise, few political figures have done more to keep Ukrainians fighting in a bloody proxy war they have zero chance of winning than VdL. As Responsible Statecraft reported last week, Kyiv simply doesn’t have the human resources or physical infrastructure to achieve its goals:

As unpalatable as it is for all supporters of Ukraine, the most prudent course for Zelensky may now be to seek a negotiated settlement that preserves as much freedom and territory as possible for Kyiv. Ending the war now would end the deaths and injuries for tens of thousands of Ukraine’s brave and heroic fighters — men and women whom Kyiv will need to rebuild their country once the war ends.

But Europe and the US are holding firm, even as the leaders of more and more non-aligned countries, including Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia and China, call for an immediate ceasefire. While NATO may have no viable exit strategy, VdL fears that a ceasefire would consolidate the territorial gains made by Russia since February 2022, as if that fate were somehow avoidable at this stage. As the piece in RS notes, “Ukraine is unlikely to militarily evict Russia out of its territory, no matter how many men they feed into battle.”

VdL has other concerns too, including the threat a negotiated settlement could pose to US-EU’s grandiose reconstruction plans for Ukraine, in which, to paraphrase Julian Assange, potentially trillions of dollars of taxpayer funds will get washed through Ukraine and back into the hands of a transnational security elite. Here’s VdL from late May:

A ceasefire would be inherently unstable and destabilise the region along the contact line. Nobody would invest or rebuild, and the conflict could flare up again at any time. No. A just peace must result in the withdrawal of the Russian forces and their equipment from the territory of Ukraine.

Since VdL said those words, Ukraine’s long-awaited counter-offensive has come and almost completely gone while achieving next to nothing, apart from massively escalating the Ukrainian body count. As the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday, “When Ukraine launched its big counteroffensive this spring Western military officials knew Kyiv didn’t have all the training or weapons, that it needed to dislodge Russian forces. But they hoped Ukrainian courage and resourcefulness would carry the day. They haven’t.” And yet the meat grinder grinds on.

Funding War Through the European Peace Facility (EPF)

Interestingly, the Commission’s peace and freedom prize has garnered next to no attention in Western media. Maybe the MSM thought it too farcical a story to cover. But it has been covered elsewhere, including in an op-ed by British journalist and lecturer Mark Blacklock in China’s English-language government house organ Global Times. Blacklock describes the WJA’s latest choice of recipient for the award as “peculiar”:

In her acceptance speech, [VdL] spoke of the war between Ukraine and Russia, quoting from the UN Charter to declare countries should refrain from “the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.”

Why then has the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, deliberately concocted a method of evading its own internal checks and balances — designed to prevent the EU from distributing military aid to countries outside the bloc — in order to enable it to send billions of euros worth of weapons and ammunition from its member countries?

The disingenuously-named European Peace Facility (EPF) was created by the EU in 2021 to finance initiatives designed to avoid wars and encourage peace in other countries and strengthen international security. It was necessary because the EU is not allowed to finance military actions itself. The EPF’s original budget of 5.5 billion euros ($6.1 billion) was meant to partly reimburse its 27 member countries for the cost of lethal weapons, ammunition, and other military hardware supplied to other nations for those purposes. Now the budget stands at 12 billion euros ($13.5 billion) and has been repurposed so it can now be used to help Ukraine. Already, 4.6 billion euros ($5.1 billion) has been allocated to Kiev, and last week the EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, outlined plans to send 20 billion euros ($22.3 billion) to Ukraine over the next four years. This war marks the first time the EU has supplied lethal weapons this way to a third country.

The Commission is in the process of setting up a procurement platform for EU nations to jointly purchase weapons, arguing that pooling demand will allow EU Members to secure better terms from suppliers — just as happened with the Commission’s COVID-19 vaccine procurement platform. You know, the one in which the terms and conditions — at least those that seeped out into the public sphere despite Pfizer, BioNtech and the Commission’s best efforts — got progressively worse as time went on, even as the Commission’s orders ballooned in size. That’s right: the more vaccines the Commission bought, the more it paid per unit.

Now, EU Member States are inundated with hundreds of millions of COVID-19 vaccines that nobody wants. Germany alone has binned 83 million doses of coronavirus vaccines at an estimated cost of €1.6 billion, and has 120 million further doses sitting idle in warehouses around the country. Yet Germany, like all other EU Member States, must continue buying more vaccines until 2028. At the same time, its Health Ministry recently announced that it was dramatically scaling back a €100 million programme for research into long Covid and post-vaccination injuries, as well as support for those afflicted, as part of Berlin’s new austerity drive.

The VdL Commission’s vaccine procurement practices are now the subject of two investigations by the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO). As the Belgian news weekly Le Vif recently reported, in late June the EPPO took up a criminal complaint filed by Frédéric Baldan, a Belgian lobbyist, in Liège, against VdL for, among other things, “destruction of public documents” (the infamous text messages between VdL and Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla) and “corruption”. For all his troubles, Baldan’s lobbying firm, CEBiz, was suspended from the European register of lobbyists, even though its accreditation had been renewed in April.

But I digress. Back to the WJA’s award, which, as its title suggests, is meant not just to honour the recipient’s commitment to peace but also to freedom. And this is something else the VdL Commission has little apparent regard for. As I reported a couple of weeks ago, in exactly one month’s time (August 25) the European Union’s Digital Services Act, or DSA, is set to go fully live. From that date, all “Very Large Online Platforms” (VLOPs) and “Very Large Online Search Engines” (VLOSEs) will be obliged  to speedily remove illegal content, hate speech and so-called disinformation from their platforms. If not, they risk fines of up to 6% of their annual global revenue:

So, who in the EU will get to define what actually constitutes mis- or disinformation?

Surely it will be the job of an independent regulator or a judicial authority with at least clear procedural parameters and no or few conflicts of interest. At least that is what one would hope.

But no.

The ultimate decider of what constitutes mis- or dis-information, possibly not just in the EU but across multiple jurisdictions around the world, will be the European Commission. That’s right, the EU’s power-hungry, conflict-of-interest-riddled, Von der Leyen-led executive branch. The same institution that is in the process of dynamiting the EU’s economic future through its endless backfiring sanctions on Russia and which is mired in Pfizergate, one of the biggest corruption scandals of its 64-year existence. Now the Commission wants to take mass censorship to levels not seen in Europe since at least the dying days of the Cold War.

Late last year, the Electronic Frontier Foundation warned that the DSA, in its current form, could have “a significant negative impact on the rights of users, in particular that of privacy and free speech.” And as American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) notes, free speech and a free press are the foundation stones of any genuine liberal democracy. And the European Commission is about to enshrine a censorship regime that threatens to put paid to freedom of speech in Europe and could even end up going global. Yet the same Commission just won the World Prize for Peace and Freedom. Once again, Orwell will be turning in his grave.


[1] Trudeau was also an interesting choice to present the award to VdL given his recent role in crushing the Canadian Freedom Truckers’ convoy protest. In February 2022, he and his Vice President, Economy Minister and WEF Board of Trustees member Chrystia Freeland invoke the emergencies act — a step that had never been taken before — to compel banks to seize the accounts of the freedom convoy protesters who had blocked several key border crossings. Trudeau was also particularly stark in his rhetoric against the unvaccinated, saying at one point:

“They don’t believe in science/progress and are very often misogynistic and racist… This leads us, as a leader and as a country, to make a choice: Do we tolerate these people?”

Canada had one of the strictest regimes of measures against unvaccinated people in the so-called Western world, including a mandate preventing them from boarding a commercial plane or train to both domestic and international destinations. As Saltwire recalled in May this year, unvaccinated Canadians couldn’t so much as walk into a train station or airport, and were barred from boarding cruise ships and other types of marine vessels.” A quarter of a million federal employees were also threatened with job loss if they didn’t get the vaccine. Yet in April this year, months after the measures had been withdrawn, Trudeau claimed he had never “forced” anyone to get a vaccine.

[2] The EU itself also won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2012, ostensibly in recognition of its contribution, by its simple existence, of avoiding (at least until now) any repetition of World War I and World War II, both of which originated on European soil. As Blacklock notes, it was a hugely controversial decision that was rejected by three former Peace Prize winners:

South Africa’s own peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu and two other former recipients said the EU was unsuitable because its values did not align with those of the Nobel. Primarily, they said, it advocates “security based on military force and waging wars rather than insisting on the need for an alternative approach.”

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  1. Stephen

    The whole event seems like a parody of the classic definition of “law”.

    Just like the “rules based order” is a parody of “international law”.

    The western world is actually moving in exactly the direction that Orwell feared.

    The total control of society by an unaccountable (except to themselves) oligarchy is a feature not a bug.

    1. Ignacio

      There is a quote from Mr. Wolf @ Pulp Fiction that says in the most graphic way what were they doing in the meeting.

    2. Randall Flagg

      War is Peace
      Freedom is Slavery
      Ignorance is Strength

      That’s all you need to know…

      1. Irrational

        Spot on. Throw in “European values” as the unifying theme.
        Thanks to Nick for the post – I had completely missed this.

        1. MJ the covid spreader

          Except if you’re Russian. Then your private property becomes a ‘peace fund’. Also, we now sanction citizens directly for espousing different views on Russia.

  2. DJG, Reality Czar

    Nick Corbishley: Tell us what you really think of Ursula van der Leyen, eh.

    I would like to highlight those “missing e-mails” surrounding the monumental corruption involving Pfizer and Prez Ursula. It is remarkable in itself that she was so involved in the negotiations, and still remarkable is how the communications have been suppressed and lost. I’m reminded of another famous politician, also adept at failing up, who still owes us 30,000 e-mail messages about yoga and Chelsea’s wedding.

    I will also remind you of Ursula v d L’s sidekick in misgoverning Europe, the PPE member and blandly reactionary Roberta Metsola, who presides over the notably inert European Parliament, home of stalled careers, sinecures, and bribes.

    Europe is sure to scale new heights with talent like this.

    As to awarding of specious prizes: It goes on all the time. This one may seem like a whopper, but in the Anglo-American world it’s a prize a minute. Everyone’s a winner when there are systems of health care to be looted and destroyed!

    1. vao

      Roberta Metsola, who presides over the notably inert European Parliament, home of stalled careers, sinecures, and bribes.

      Which reminds me: what happened to all those MEP and other Eurocrats who were the recipients of illegal, if generous, monetary treats from mysterious Qatari and Turkish officials? The whole affair made quite some noise last year, before falling into the proverbial memory hole.

  3. rob

    “In a mad world, only the mad are sane”

    It helps to “be content to be thought foolish and stupid”, and a little crazy…..
    to keep some version of a healthy perspective in this world. Remembering that life has always existed under occupation.
    swimming out past the breakers….. watching the world burn…

  4. The Rev Kev

    This whole thing is ripe for being one of Alex Christofourou’s clown world segments but it is not surprising. What we are seeing is the elite of the world giving each other prizes that give status points and burnish resumes which have little bearing on what is going on in the real world. For this globalist elite, Ursula is doing a great job of prolonging the war and helping to centralize power to the leaders of the EU no matter how unhappy the actual citizens are of the EU. Look at her career. In each job she has failed badly but then gets promoted for here next gig. I don’t know where she will end up next. Maybe NATO Secretary General or even the Secretary General of the UN. The present system is set up to protect people like her because of the material benefits that she gives to powerful parties. Like she did with vaccines and the EU for example. And people when they taste that power do not want to give it up. Like Kissinger at 100 or Dianne Feinstein for example. So do not expect Ursula to go away any time soon.

  5. .Tom

    So do these political and ruling class elites just go from one meeting to another congratulating themselves on what an awesome job they are doing, perfectly isolated from contradicting realities and dissent? Things like the angry Irish MEPs making short speeches probably doesn’t register.

    Actually, now that I think a bit, perhaps the event and prize described here is necessary. Without increasingly intense and frequent congratulation, reality might penetrate.

  6. Aurelien

    Couple of points of context.
    The Commission thinks strategically, and has long-term objectives. Ever since the 1991-92 discussions that led to the Political Union Treaty, they have been trying to muscle their way into the defence area, with the support of some of the small states. Indeed, at one point in the negotiations the Commission actually tabled a draft treaty which would have given them such a role. An unlikely combination of states, headed by the UK and France, put an end to that, but the Commission never gives up, and has been nibbling away at the defence area for the past thirty years, usually under the guise of “development” assistance. It has a pile of money to spend, and the main beneficiaries of its largesse are, well, exactly the same people who have just given it the award: international lawyers, NGOs and other parasites on the problems of the world. Because the Commission was kept out of “hard” defence issues, they opted for all the soft, touchy-feely stuff. So in an African country whose Army was poorly trained, badly equipped and seldom paid, and thus totally ineffective, the Commission knew exactly what to do. Organise a three-day conference at a luxury hotel for local politicians and foreign funded “civil society groups” and NGOs, to talk about a Human Rights Training and a Code of Conduct, with the help of experts flown in from western countries. (A lot of money would be spent on private security firms because the Army did not have the capability to protect the hotel.) And the result would be contracts given to western NGOs and human rights activists to draft massive documents, often translated from European legislation, which would, one day, be translated into the local languages for any of the soldiers who by chance are able to read, and all expenses-paid human rights training in countries like Sweden and Denmark. No, I’m not exaggerating. This is just the NGO/HR industry returning the compliment.

    The Peace Facility is not new: it’s an amalgam of the old Africa Peace Facility, and other bits and pieces. The APF was modestly useful in supporting African Union deployments to places like Somalia, but suffered from the fact that it was very selective: the APF could pay for uniforms and unarmed vehicles, but not weapons. It could pay for human rights training but not training in how to use your weapon, or how to deal with angry crowds. No wonder Africans were puzzled. It looks as though the Commission may have finally managed to break out of these limitations, but given that they don’t have, and never have had, any expertise in military issues, I suspect it’s all going to be a shambles.

    1. hk

      In a way, Ukraine is what a big war being conducted by “peaceniks” (on both sides, I should add), although of quite different varieties) looks like, I wonder. Sherman would feel vindicated (he said something like, if you try to make war less hellish, you’ll make it even more hellish, or something like that, as an addendum to his war is hell quote.)

  7. Carolinian

    The Wizard gave the Cowardly Lion a medal and it made him brave. Maybe giving Ursula a peace medal will make her peaceful. Admittedly it didn’t work on Obama (although that seemed to have been the theory). Also admittedly The Wizard of Oz was satire.

    We look forward to Biden getting the Retiree of the Month award at whatever care home he ends up in. Hope they have ice cream.

    1. The Rev Kev

      How did that song that the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz go again? Oh yeah – ‘If She Only Had A Brain…’

  8. Benny Profane

    So, what will happen when the “large” social media outlets refuse to comply with the EU censorship regime? No doubt Zuckerberg will knuckle under, but, everyone else, including Musk? So they decide to fine them “6% of worldwide revenue”. What the hell? How would they collect it? Would they actually shut down YouTube and Telegram and sites like this?

    1. Feral Finster

      My pure SWAG is that the law is written to give social media cover, an excuse for complying with the censorship regime.

      I had a (PMC wannabe) journalist insist straightfaced that censorship is necessary for fre4edom of the press. Because war is peace, freedom is slavery, and we have always been at war with Eastasia,

  9. itsaclasswar

    Illegal economic sanctions alone constitute an act of war, according to the international law. So much about the “peace” part.

      1. itsaclasswar

        Thank you for the incentive to delve deeper into the subject. I’ve seen it claimed quite a few times in the past decade, including by some reputable sources, so I took it for granted. However, all the sources I can find now point to the contrary, that illegal economic sanctions, those not authorised by the UNSC, constitute an economic war and perhaps violate the UN charter, but not the international law. I stand corrected.

    1. Ignacio

      A marine blocade, such as some would like to do at Kaliningrad would be an act of war defined long ago. To my knowledge economic sanctions are so far not constitutive of such. Yet, If the West had managed to drag the rest of the world to apply their sanctions against Russia that would have amounted as equivalent to a blocade and Russia would probably have considered that (rightly?) an act of war.

  10. jrkrideau

    Trudeau was also an interesting choice to present the award to VdL given his recent role in crushing the Canadian Freedom Truckers’ convoy protest.

    The so-called “Truckers’ Convoy consisted of a weird mixture of rabid alt-right extremists, wandering libertarians, a smattering of neo-nazis, some fundamentalist Christians — why?– some generally unhappy people who often had good reasons though not necessarily at the Federal Gov’t, and even a few truckers. Some segments of this motley crew were advocating the overthrow of the government. As a Canadian I was not impressed to see that significant funds to support these last groups seemed to be coming from outside the country.

    The “Trucker Convoy” was complaining about “mandates. Except for a vaccine mandate on entering the country, any mandate was a provincial issue not a federal one. Health matters are a provincial responsibility.

    So a federal mandate only affected truckers who carried out cross-border trips to the USA. Since the USA was requiring proof of vaccination, one must assume that that truckers were vaccinated to get into the USA. Therefore the Canadian federal mandate really did not affect truckers.

    BTW, the trucker convoy and associated border blockades really got crushed quickly when the Conservative Gov’t in Ontario and the United Conservative Gov’t in Alberta realized that billions of dollars in cross-border trade was being blocked.

    1. Bill Malcolm

      Precisely so, and it’s these nuances foreigners have not absorbed when they go on a tirade about the Emergency Act invocation. What we experienced in Canada I have seen not the slightest sign of understanding of in foreign “reporting” or opinion. Canada’s political system is opaque to these people and they invest no time in learning about it. Thus, not a clue in how to interpret things due to having not the slightest idea of the political dynamics involved — assumptions are made “ooh, it must be like here where I live basically,” when it isn’t. Thus the silly conclusions reached.

      No indeed, one sighs, it was all absorbed in the way the international “they” “saw” it, shape-shifted to be part of the preset narrative that is already formed in this dissident branch of Western politics. Which for solidarity is to report a consistent trend rather than point out an outlier. The truckers were the problem, folks, not the political leaders, got it? I’m all in general favour of dissenting opinion, but it’s disappinting when the ball’s dropped as in this case. Shows that not all dissenting opinion is anywhere close to the truth, and that one has to peruse all opinion from whatever source with an initial jaundiced eye until bona fides are established.

  11. Dida

    Just like Zelensky (the coke-addict actor who led his country to complete ruin), Imran Khan (Pakistan’s beloved cricket champion turned prime minister), Trudeau (the happy-go-lucky fund trust baby who couldn’t keep any job for more than one year because he got bored), or Biden (the brain-dead president of world’s most powerful empire), Ursula is more or less an empty suit. Many billions are being spent worldwide to elect such puppets, who then fulfill the will of the oligarchs. Does it even matter that they get make-believe awards? The real problem is that we live in make-believe democracies: who exactly is running our countries, because these people are certainly incapable to lead nations…

    If you look carefully at Ursula’s resume, surprise, she has an employment history of 3 years’ worth of honest work at most! Yet now she is responsible for the well-being of 450 million people and the third largest economy of the world (after US and China). How was she qualified to become Germany’s defense minister, or to lead Europe’s into WWIII, with a couple of medical degrees and a one time 3-year stint as assistant physician at a women’s clinic? The rest of the time she was either unemployed, or in school accumulating degrees – while the nannies raised her 7 children, as is the fashion among the upper crust. Her (otherwise heavily fudged) bio is really this bad.

    Then, of course, Ursula is not only the daughter of the former minister president of Lower Saxony, but also the heiress of a powerful cotton merchant house, who married the heir of an ennobled family of silk merchants and industrialists. She descends from a long line of colonial governors in British America; her lineage comprises large plantation owners and one of the largest slave traders in the Thirteen Colonies. ‘Her ancestors were among the wealthiest in British North America in the 18th century’ (Wikipedia). There: she had a spectacularly fast rise in Western politics because she can be counted on to be loyal to the oligarch class, to which she fully belongs by both descent and alliance.

    By now her brood is ready for political office and raring to work for the ‘globalists’, just like mom. Marie Donata for example, born in 1992, graduated in History and in Political Science from Heidelberg, worked as an intern at the German Embassy in Paris and at the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation, London, and in 2016, at the tender age of 24 ‘became regional specialist at the World Economic Forum, where she oversaw the security and defense working group‘!

    What’s an Orwellian award or two going to change in this already horrendous picture?

  12. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

    Ursula is more American than German. There isn’t an Atlanticist outfit she’s not associated with. Von der Leyen is descended directly from Amerrican James Ladson, who owned more than 200 slaves when the Civil War broke out. Rose Ladson is the alias she went under at LSE- She’s a made woman.

  13. Kouros

    I was surprised to not hear from VdL extholing the great work peace the EU has done in the Balkans, including the war agaisnt Serbia, or the attack on Libya and the contribution to the collapse of that country.

  14. WillD

    Her (rapidly shrinking) world order is in now ‘tatters’ just like the Russian economy was supposed to be!

    1. Yves Smith

      Because she comes from a family that has been part of the governing elite for literally hundreds of years. Basically brand name and connections.

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