A record 237 candidates have been nominated for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, the Norwegian Nobel Institute said on Wednesday. The tally comprises 199 individuals and 38 organisations and beats the 205 nominations made last year, when the coveted award went to US President Barack Obama.
This year's figure has been released after the five-member Nobel Committee formally registered all the nominations during its first session earlier this week.
The Nobel Committee advises those making nominations not to reveal their proposals in advance.
However, there are no formal rules against doing so, allowing for plenty of speculation before the winner is announced, normally in early October.
Nominees this year include the imprisoned Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo, Russian human rights organisation Memorial, Russian human rights defender Svetlana Gannushkina, and the Congolese physician Denis Mukwege.
A few unconventional names - such as a trio of internet pioneers Larry Roberts and Vint Cerf of the US and Briton Tim Berners-Lee - are among the nominees, according to Norwegian broadcaster NRK.
Among other names that have been mentioned in recent years are former German chancellor Helmut Kohl, Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng, Israeli nuclear whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu, as well as the Austrian-based relief organisation SOS Children's Villages and the European Union.
Vanunu has asked to be removed from the list of nominees, Nobel Institute Director Geir Lundestad said recently.
Parliamentarians, academics, former peace prize laureates as well as current and former members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee are among those who have the right to nominate candidates for the coveted award.
The Peace Prize is one of several prizes endowed by the Swedish industrialist and inventor of dynamite Alfred Nobel. The Norwegian Nobel Institute was set up in 1904 to aid the Nobel Committee in evaluating candidates.