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Nobel Peace Prize

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Nobel Peace Prize
A golden medallion with an embossed image of a bearded man facing left in profile. To the left of the man is the text "ALFR•" then "NOBEL", and on the right, the text (smaller) "NAT•" then "MDCCCXXXIII" above, followed by (smaller) "OB•" then "MDCCCXCVI" below.
Awarded forOutstanding contributions in peace
LocationOslo, Norway
Presented byNorwegian Nobel Committee on behalf of the estate of Alfred Nobel
Reward(s)9 million SEK (2017)[1]
First awarded10 December 1901; 117 years ago (1901-12-10)[2]
Currently held byDenis Mukwege and Nadia Murad (2018)
Most awardsInternational Committee of the Red Cross (3)

The Nobel Peace Prize (Swedish, Norwegian: Nobels fredspris) is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Swedish industrialist, inventor, and armaments manufacturer Alfred Nobel, along with the prizes in Chemistry, Physics, Physiology or Medicine, and Literature. Since March 1901,[3] it has been awarded annually (with some exceptions) to those who have "done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses".[4]

Per Alfred Nobel's will, the recipient is selected by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, a five-member committee appointed by the Parliament of Norway. Since 1990, the prize is awarded on 10 December in Oslo City Hall each year. The prize was formerly awarded in the Atrium of the University of Oslo Faculty of Law (1947–1989), the Norwegian Nobel Institute (1905–1946), and the Parliament (1901–1904).

Due to its political nature, the Nobel Peace Prize has, for most of its history, been the subject of controversies.

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  • ✪ Nobel Peace Prize-winner Muhammad Yunus


What do a seventeen-year-old Pakistani, a Norwegian explorer, a Tibetan monk, and an American pastor have in common? They were all awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Among the top prestigious awards in the world, this prize has honored some of the most celebrated and revered international figures and organizations in history. To understand how it all got started, we have to go back to the 1800s. Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel was then mostly known for the invention of dynamite, a breakthrough which launched his career as a successful inventor and businessman. 30 years later, he had become extremely wealthy, but never married, and had no children. When his will was opened after his death, it came as a surprise that his fortune was to be used for five prizes in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and peace. These prizes illustrated his lifelong commitment to sciences and his passion for literature. But what about peace? Because Nobel's name was tied to inventions used in the war industry, many have assumed that he created the peace prize out of regret. However, this is all speculation as he never expressed any such sentiments, and his inventions were also used for constructive purposes. Instead, many historians connect Alfred Nobel's interest for the peace cause to his decade-long friendship and correspondence with an Austrian pacifist named Bertha Von Suttner. Von Suttner was one of the leaders of the international peace movement, and in 1905, after Nobel's death, she became the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Nobel's will outlined three criteria for the Peace Prize, which unlike the other Sweden-based prizes, would be administered in Norway. Disarmament, peace congresses, and brotherhood between nations. These standards have since been expanded to include other ways of promoting peace, such as human rights and negotiations. And the prize doesn't just have to go to one person. About a third of Noble Peace Prizes have been shared by two or three laureates. So how do nominations for the prize work? According to the Nobel Foundation, a valid nomination can come from a member of a national assembly, state government, or an international court. Eligible nominators also include university rectors, professors of the social sciences, history, philosophy, law, and theology, and previous recipients of the Peace Prize. But if you want to know more about who was recently nominated, you'll have to be patient. All information about nominations remains secret for 50 years. Take Martin Luther King Jr. We didn't actually know who nominated him until 2014. His nominators turned out to be the Quakers, who had won the prize previously, and eight members of the Swedish Parliament. There's no limit to the number of times a person or organization can be nominated. In fact, Jane Addams, recognized as the founder of social work in the United States, was nominated 91 times before finally being awarded the prize. The absence of a laureate can also be symbolic. The 1948 decision not to award the prize following the death of Mahatma Gandhi has been interpreted as an attempt to respectfully honor the so-called missing laureate. As with the other Nobel Prizes, the Peace Prize can't be awarded posthumously. The secret selection process takes almost a year, and is carried out by the five appointed members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee who are forbidden from having any official political function in Norway. Starting with a large pool of nominations, exceeding 300 in recent years, they access each candidate's work and create a short list. Finally, the chairman of the Nobel Committee publicly announces the laureate in October. The awards ceremony takes place on December 10th, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel's death. The prize itself includes a gold medal inscribed with the Latin words, "Pro pace et fraternitate gentium," or "For the peace and brotherhood of men," as well as a diploma and a large cash prize. Recently, it's been 8 million Swedish kronor, or roughly a million US dollars, which is split in the case of multiple laureates. And while laureates can use the prize money as they choose, in recent years, many have donated it to humanitarian or social causes. For many years, the Nobel Peace Prize was predominately awarded to European and North American men. But in recent years, significant changes have been taking place, making the prize more global than ever. 23 organizations and 103 individuals, that's 87 men and 16 women, have made up the 126 Nobel Peace Prize laureates in history. They include Desmond Tutu for his nonviolent campaign against apartheid in South Africa, Jody Williams for her campaign to ban and clear anti-personnel mines, Rigoberta Menchú Tum for her work for social justice and reconciliation based on respect for the rights of indigenous peoples, Martti Ahtisaari for his efforts to resolve international conflicts in Namibia, Kosovo, and Indonesia, and Aung San Suu Kyi for her nonviolent struggle for democracy and human rights in Myanmar. They're just a few examples of the people who have inspired us, challenged us, and demonstrated through their actions that there are many paths to peace.



According to Nobel's will, the Peace Prize shall be awarded to the person who in the preceding year "shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses".[5] Alfred Nobel's will further specified that the prize be awarded by a committee of five people chosen by the Norwegian Parliament.[6][7]

Nobel died in 1896 and he did not leave an explanation for choosing peace as a prize category. As he was a trained chemical engineer, the categories for chemistry and physics were obvious choices. The reasoning behind the peace prize is less clear. According to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, his friendship with Bertha von Suttner, a peace activist and later recipient of the prize, profoundly influenced his decision to include peace as a category.[8] Some Nobel scholars suggest it was Nobel's way to compensate for developing destructive forces. His inventions included dynamite and ballistite, both of which were used violently during his lifetime. Ballistite was used in war[9] and the Irish Republican Brotherhood, an Irish nationalist organization, carried out dynamite attacks in the 1880s.[10] Nobel was also instrumental in turning Bofors from an iron and steel producer into an armaments company.

It is unclear why Nobel wished the Peace Prize to be administered in Norway, which was ruled in union with Sweden at the time of Nobel's death. The Norwegian Nobel Committee speculates that Nobel may have considered Norway better suited to awarding the prize, as it did not have the same militaristic traditions as Sweden. It also notes that at the end of the 19th century, the Norwegian parliament had become closely involved in the Inter-Parliamentary Union's efforts to resolve conflicts through mediation and arbitration.[8]

Nomination and selection

The Norwegian Parliament appoints the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which selects the Nobel Peace Prize laureate.


Each year, the Norwegian Nobel Committee specifically invites qualified people to submit nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize.[11] The statutes of the Nobel Foundation specify categories of individuals who are eligible to make nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize.[12] These nominators are:

The 14th Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize laureates
The 14th Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize laureates

Nominations must usually be submitted to the Committee by the beginning of February in the award year. Nominations by committee members can be submitted up to the date of the first Committee meeting after this deadline.[12]

In 2009, a record 205 nominations were received,[13] but the record was broken again in 2010 with 237 nominations; in 2011, the record was broken once again with 241 nominations.[14] The statutes of the Nobel Foundation do not allow information about nominations, considerations, or investigations relating to awarding the prize to be made public for at least 50 years after a prize has been awarded.[15] Over time, many individuals have become known as "Nobel Peace Prize Nominees", but this designation has no official standing, and means only that one of the thousands of eligible nominators suggested the person's name for consideration.[16] Indeed, in 1939, Adolf Hitler received a satirical nomination from a member of the Swedish parliament, mocking the (serious but unsuccessful) nomination of Neville Chamberlain.[17] Nominations from 1901 to 1956, however, have been released in a database.[18]


Nominations are considered by the Nobel Committee at a meeting where a short list of candidates for further review is created. This short list is then considered by permanent advisers to the Nobel institute, which consists of the Institute's Director and the Research Director and a small number of Norwegian academics with expertise in subject areas relating to the prize. Advisers usually have some months to complete reports, which are then considered by the Committee to select the laureate. The Committee seeks to achieve a unanimous decision, but this is not always possible. The Nobel Committee typically comes to a conclusion in mid-September, but occasionally the final decision has not been made until the last meeting before the official announcement at the beginning of October.[19]

Awarding the prize

Obverse of the Nobel Peace Prize Medal presented to Sir Ralph Norman Angell in 1933; the Imperial War Museum, London
Obverse of the Nobel Peace Prize Medal presented to Sir Ralph Norman Angell in 1933; the Imperial War Museum, London

The Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee presents the Nobel Peace Prize in the presence of the King of Norway on 10 December each year (the anniversary of Nobel's death). The Peace Prize is the only Nobel Prize not presented in Stockholm. The Nobel laureate receives a diploma, a medal, and a document confirming the prize amount.[20] As of 2013, the prize was worth 10 million SEK (about US$1.5 million). Since 1990, the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony is held at Oslo City Hall.

From 1947 to 1989, the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony was held in the Atrium of the University of Oslo Faculty of Law, a few hundred metres from Oslo City Hall. Between 1905 and 1946, the ceremony took place at the Norwegian Nobel Institute. From 1901 to 1904, the ceremony took place in the Storting (Parliament).[21]


It has been expressed that the Peace Prize has been awarded in politically motivated ways for more recent or immediate achievements,[22] or with the intention of encouraging future achievements.[22][23] Some commentators have suggested that to award a peace prize on the basis of unquantifiable contemporary opinion is unjust or possibly erroneous, especially as many of the judges cannot themselves be said to be impartial observers.[24]

In 2011, a feature story in the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten contended that major criticisms of the award were that the Norwegian Nobel Committee ought to recruit members from professional and international backgrounds, rather than retired members of parliament; that there is too little openness about the criteria that the committee uses when they choose a recipient of the prize; and that the adherence to Nobel's will should be more strict. In the article, Norwegian historian Øivind Stenersen argues that Norway has been able to use the prize as an instrument for nation building and furthering Norway's foreign policy and economic interests.[25]

In another 2011 Aftenposten opinion article, the grandson of one of Nobel's two brothers, Michael Nobel, also criticised what he believed to be the politicisation of the award, claiming that the Nobel Committee has not always acted in accordance with Nobel's will.[26] Norwegian lawyer Fredrik S. Heffermehl has criticized the management of the Peace Prize.[27]

Criticism of individual conferments

Barack Obama with Thorbjørn Jagland
Barack Obama with Thorbjørn Jagland at the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony

The awards given to Mikhail Gorbachev,[28] Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Menachem Begin and Yasser Arafat,[29][30] Lê Đức Thọ, Henry Kissinger,[31] Jimmy Carter,[32] Al Gore,[33] the IPCC,[34] Liu Xiaobo,[35][36][37] Aung San Suu Kyi,[38][39][40] Barack Obama,[41][42][43][44] and the European Union[45] have all been the subject of controversy.

The awards given to Lê Đức Thọ and Henry Kissinger prompted two dissenting Committee members to resign.[46] Thọ refused to accept the prize, on the grounds that such "bourgeois sentimentalities" were not for him[47] and that peace had not actually been achieved in Vietnam. Kissinger donated his prize money to charity, did not attend the award ceremony and later offered to return his prize medal after the fall of South Vietnam to North Vietnamese forces 18 months later.[47]

Notable omissions

Foreign Policy has listed Mahatma Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt, U Thant, Václav Havel, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Fazle Hasan Abed and Corazon Aquino as people who "never won the prize, but should have".[48][49]

The omission of Mahatma Gandhi has been particularly widely discussed, including in public statements by various members of the Nobel Committee.[50][51] The Committee has confirmed that Gandhi was nominated in 1937, 1938, 1939, 1947, and, finally, a few days before his assassination in January 1948.[52] The omission has been publicly regretted by later members of the Nobel Committee.[50] Geir Lundestad, Secretary of Norwegian Nobel Committee in 2006 said, "The greatest omission in our 106-year history is undoubtedly that Mahatma Gandhi never received the Nobel Peace prize. Gandhi could do without the Nobel Peace prize, whether Nobel committee can do without Gandhi is the question".[53] In 1948, following Gandhi's death, the Nobel Committee declined to award a prize on the ground that "there was no suitable living candidate" that year. Later, when the Dalai Lama was awarded the Peace Prize in 1989, the chairman of the committee said that this was "in part a tribute to the memory of Mahatma Gandhi".[54]

List of Nobel Peace Prize laureates

View of a diploma - Nobel Peace Prize 2001, United Nations
View of a diploma - Nobel Peace Prize 2001, United Nations

As of 2016, the Peace Prize has been awarded to 104 individuals and 23 organizations. Sixteen women have won the Nobel Peace Prize, more than any other Nobel Prize.[55] Only two recipients have won multiple Prizes: the International Committee of the Red Cross has won three times (1917, 1944, and 1963) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has won twice (1954 and 1981).[56] Lê Đức Thọ is the only person who refused to accept the Nobel Peace Prize.[57]

See also


  1. ^ "Nobel Prize amount is raised by SEK 1 million".
  2. ^ "The Nobel Peace Prize 1901". Retrieved 2017-10-29.
  3. ^ "The Nobel Peace Prize 1901". NobelPrize. 1972. Archived from the original on 2007-01-02. Retrieved 2016-03-19.
  4. ^ "Nobel Peace Prize", The Oxford Dictionary of Twentieth Century World History
  5. ^ "Excerpt from the Will of Alfred Nobel". Nobel Foundation. Retrieved 31 March 2008.
  6. ^ Nordlinger, Jay (2012-03-20). Peace, They Say: A History of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Most Famous and Controversial Prize in the World. Encounter Books. ISBN 9781594035999.
  7. ^ Levush, Ruth (2015-12-07). "Alfred Nobel's Will: A Legal Document that Might Have Changed the World and a Man's Legacy | In Custodia Legis: Law Librarians of Congress". Retrieved 2019-03-12.
  8. ^ a b "Why Norway?". The Norwegian Nobel Committee. Retrieved 11 October 2009.
  9. ^ Altman, L. (2006). Alfred Nobel and the prize that almost didn't happen. New York Times. Retrieved 14 October 2006.
  10. ^ BBC History – 1916 Easter Rising – Profiles – The Irish Republican Brotherhood BBC
  11. ^ "Nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize". Nobel Foundation. Archived from the original on 30 August 2009. Retrieved 10 September 2009.
  12. ^ a b "Who may submit nominations?". The Norwegian Nobel Committee. 8 October 2017. Archived from the original on 30 June 2013. Retrieved 10 September 2009.
  13. ^ "President Barack Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize". Associated Press on Retrieved 9 October 2009.
  14. ^ "Nominations for the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize". Nobel Foundation. Archived from the original on 11 October 2011. Retrieved 7 October 2011.
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  17. ^ Merelli, Annelise. "The darkly ironic 1939 letter nominating Adolf Hitler for the Nobel Peace Prize". Quartz Media. Retrieved 10 November 2017.
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  22. ^ a b "Obama Peace Prize win has some Americans asking why?". 9 October 2009 – via Reuters.
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  26. ^ Nobel, Michael (9 December 2011). "I strid med Nobels vilje". Aftenposten (in Norwegian). Oslo, Norway. Retrieved 12 December 2011.
  27. ^ Fredrik S. Heffermehl (2010). The Nobel Peace Prize: What Nobel Really Wanted. Greenwood Publishing Group.
  28. ^ "Gorbachev Gets Nobel Peace Prize For Foreign Police Achievements". The New York Times. 16 October 1990.
  29. ^ Said, Edward (1996). Peace and Its Discontents: Essays on Palestine in the Middle East Peace Process. Vintage. ISBN 0-679-76725-8.
  30. ^ Gotlieb, Michael (24 October 1994). "Arafat tarnishes the Nobel trophy". The San Diego Union – Tribune. p. B7.
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  38. ^ Monbiot, George (5 September 2017). "Take away Aung San Suu Kyi's Nobel peace prize. She no longer deserves it". The Guardian. Retrieved 2017-11-12.
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External links

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