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David Beasley in Cuba. Photo: Yamil Lage/AFP via Getty Images

The UN's World Food Program (WFP) was awarded this year's Nobel Peace Prize in a pointed assertion that multilateralism is saving lives despite the nationalism espoused by leaders like President Trump.

What they're saying: "Multilateralism seems to have a lack of respect these days,” said Nobel Committee director Berit Reiss-Andersen. "The need for international solidarity and multilateral co-operation is more conspicuous than ever."

The flipside: The director of the WFP, former South Carolina governor David Beasley, was actually a Trump administration pick. Another former Republican governor of that state, Nikki Haley, nominated him for the Rome-based post while serving as America's UN ambassador.

  • While President Trump has announced America's withdrawal from the WHO and criticized other UN agencies, WFP has not attracted the president's ire. Washington remains the agency's largest donor.
  • Beasley noted in a conversation with Axios last year that U.S. funding for the program had actually increased on his watch.

Driving the news: The WFP is one of the world's largest humanitarian organizations, and its mission has grown during the pandemic.

  • It began to fly medical workers and supplies all over the world after most other planes were grounded.
  • Beasley, meanwhile, has warned of a "hunger pandemic" as the pandemic's economic repercussions push tens of thousands of people into extreme poverty.
  • WFP received the award "for its efforts to combat hunger, for its contribution to bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and for acting as a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict," per the committee.

Beasley was in Niger when he received the news. He described the scene during a congratulatory call from the Nobel Committee.

  • "I'm literally in a meeting in Niger and somebody walked in and said, 'the Nobel Peace Prize!' I said, 'yeah, what about it?' They said, 'we won!'" Beasley said he didn't believe it at first.
  • "I believe that what the committee has done today is give recognition to the fact that we can't forget about the poor, the needy, the vulnerable that are suffering around the world," he said.
  • "The message to the world is powerful, and the world needs a good message right now."

Go deeper

Biden says Russia likely to invade Ukraine

President Biden addressed the brewing conflict between Russia and Ukraine during a press briefing Wednesday, saying of Russian President Vladimir Putin, "my guess is he will move in."

Why it matters: U.S. officials have issued a series of warnings about Russia's threatening military buildup on the border with Ukraine, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying in Kyiv earlier Wednesday that Russia could invade "on very short notice."

Biden challenges GOP agenda: "What are Republicans for?"

President Biden pushed back against Republican efforts to obstruct his agenda during a press conference Wednesday, asking "What are Republicans for?"

Why it matters: Biden's speech comes as he approaches one year in office, facing low polling numbers and a stalled agenda.

Nathan Bomey, author of Closer
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Biden’s face mask campaign requires more imports from China

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

American mask manufacturers are getting whiplash, having gone from sleepy sector to mission-critical industry overnight — only to see sales collapse before now being suddenly in demand again.

Why it matters: As the highly contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19 rages, health experts now say Americans need legitimate N95 or KN95 masks to best protect themselves — not widely available fakes or less effective cloth masks.

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