Nobel Peace Prize

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Conflict and Peace

Lester B. Pearson after accepting the Nobel Peace Prize
Lester B. Pearson after accepting the Nobel Peace Prize

The Nobel Peace Prize ( Swedish and Norwegian: Nobels fredspris) is the name of one of five Nobel Prizes bequeathed by the Swedish industrialist and inventor Alfred Nobel. Nobel died in 1896 and did not leave an explanation for his choice of this Nobel prize category. The categories for chemistry and physics were obvious choices as he was a trained chemical engineer. The reason behind the peace prize is less clear. Some have said it was Nobel's way to compensate for developing destructive forces (Nobel's inventions included dynamite and ballistite). However, none of his explosives, except for ballistite, were used in any war during his lifetime. According to Nobel's will, the Peace Prize should be awarded "to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses".

The Peace Prize is awarded annually in Oslo, the capital of Norway. For the past decade, the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony at the Oslo City Hall has been followed the next day by the Nobel Peace Prize Concert, which is broadcast to over 150 countries and more than 450 million households around the world. The Concert has received worldwide fame and the participation of top celebrity hosts and performers. The selection of Nobel Peace Prize winners sometimes causes controversy, as the list of winners includes people who formerly used violent methods of problem-solving, but then later made exceptional concessions to non-violence in the attempt to achieve peace.

Appointment process

The Nobel Institute in Oslo, Norway.
The Nobel Institute in Oslo, Norway.

The Norwegian Parliament appoints the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which selects the Laureate for the Peace Prize. The Committee chairman, currently Dr. Ole Danbolt Mjøs, awards the Prize itself. At the time of Alfred Nobel's death Sweden and Norway were in a personal union in which the Swedish government was solely responsible for foreign policy, and the Norwegian Parliament was responsible only for Norwegian domestic policy. Alfred Nobel never explained why he wanted a Norwegian rather than Swedish body to award the Peace Prize. As a consequence, many people have speculated about Nobel's intentions. For instance, Nobel may have wanted to prevent the manipulation of the selection process by foreign powers, and as Norway did not have any foreign policy, the Norwegian government could not be influenced.


Nobel Peace Prize Winners the Dalai Lama & Bishop Tutu. Vancouver, Canada, 2004.
Nobel Peace Prize Winners the Dalai Lama & Bishop Tutu. Vancouver, Canada, 2004.

Nominations for the Prize may be made by a broad array of qualified individuals, including former recipients, members of national assemblies and congresses, university professors, international judges, and special advisors to the Prize Committee. In some years as many as 199 nominations have been received. The Committee keeps the nominations secret and asks that nominators do the same. Over time many individuals have become known as "Nobel Peace Prize Nominees", but this designation has no official standing . Nominations from 1901 to 1951, however, have been released in a database. When the past nominations were released it was discovered that Adolf Hitler was nominated in 1939, though the nomination was retracted in February of the same year. Other infamous nominees included Joseph Stalin and Benito Mussolini.

Unlike the other Nobel Prizes, the Nobel Peace Prize may be awarded to persons or organizations that are in the process of resolving an issue, or creating world peace rather than upon the resolution of the issue. Since the Prize can be given to individuals involved in ongoing peace processes, some of the awards now appear, with hindsight, questionable, particularly when those processes failed to bear lasting fruit. For example, the awards given to Theodore Roosevelt, Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin, Yasser Arafat, Lê Ðức Thọ, and Henry Kissinger were particularly controversial and criticized; the latter prompted two dissenting Committee members to resign .

In 2005, the Nobel Peace Centre opened. It serves to present the Laureates, their work for peace, and the ongoing problems of war and conflict around the world.


The Nobel Peace Prize has throughout its history sparked controversy. The Norwegian Parliament appoints the Peace Prize Committee, but pacifist critics argue that the same Parliament has pursued partisan military aims by ratifying membership in NATO in 1949, by hosting NATO troops, and by leasing ports and territorial waters to US ballistic missile submarines in 1983. However, the Parliament has no say in the award issue. A member of the Committee cannot at the same time be a member of the Parliament, and the Committee includes former members from all major parties, including those parties that oppose NATO membership.

A particular claimed weakness of the Nobel Peace Prize awarding process is the swiftness of recognition. The scientific and literary Nobel Prizes are usually issued in retrospect, often two or three decades after the intellectual achievement, thus representing a time-proven confirmation and balance of approval by the established academic community, seldom contradicted by newer developments. In contrast, the Nobel Peace Prize at times takes the form of summary judgment, being issued in the same year as or the year immediately following the political act. 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. In pro-democracy struggles, it may be said that the 'real' peace-makers may not be recognized for their long-term or subtle approaches. However, others have pointed to the uniqueness of the Peace Prize in that its high profile can often focus world attention on particular problems and possibly aid in the peace-efforts themselves.

On closer inspection, the peace-laureates often have a lifetime's history of working at and promoting humanitarian issues, as in the examples of German medic Albert Schweitzer (1952 laureate), Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., an African-American civil rights activist (1964 laureate); Mother Teresa, a Roman Catholic missionary nun (1979 laureate); and Aung San Suu Kyi, a Buddhist nonviolent pro-democracy activist (1991 laureate). Still others are selected for tireless efforts, as in the examples of Jimmy Carter and Mohamed ElBaradei. Others, even today, are quite controversial, due to the recipient's political activity, as in the case of Henry Kissinger (1973 laureate), Mikhail Gorbachev (1990 laureate) or Yasser Arafat (1994 laureate).

A widely discussed criticism of the peace-prize are the notable omissions, namely the failure to award individuals with widely recognized contributions to peace. The list includes Mahatma Gandhi, Pope John XXIII, Pope John Paul II, Steve Biko, Hélder Câmara, Raphael Lemkin, Herbert Hoover, Jose Figueres Ferrer and Oscar Romero. In particular, the omission of the Indian leader Gandhi has been widely discussed, including public statements by the various members of Nobel Committee. , It has been acknowledged by the committee that Gandhi was nominated in 1937, 1938, 1939, 1947 and, finally, a few days before he was murdered in January 1948. The omission has been publicly regretted by later members of the Nobel Committee; 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."

Research by anthropologist David Stoll into Rigoberta Menchú, the 1992 recipient, revealed some fabrications in her biography, "Me llamo Rigoberta Menchú y así me nació la conciencia" (My Name is Rigoberta Menchú and this is how my Conscience was Born), translated into English as " I, Rigoberta Menchú". Menchú later admitted changing some details about her background. After the initial controversy, the Nobel Committee dismissed calls to revoke her Nobel prize because of the reported falsifications. Professor Geir Lundestad, the secretary of the Committee, said her prize "was not based exclusively or primarily on the autobiography". . According to the Nobel Committee, "Stoll approves of her Nobel prize and has no question about the picture of army atrocities which she presents. He says that her purpose in telling her story the way she did 'enabled her to focus international condemnation on an institution that deserved it, the Guatemalan army'.


List of Nobel Prize laureates in Peace from 1901 to the present day.

Year Individual or Organization Notes
1901 Jean Henri Dunant (Switzerland) founder of the Red Cross and initiator of the Geneva Convention.
Frédéric Passy (France) founder and president of the Société d'arbitrage entre les Nations.
1902 Élie Ducommun (Switzerland) and Charles Albert Gobat honorary secretaries of the Permanent International Peace Bureau in Berne.
1903 Sir William Randal Cremer (UK) secretary of the International Arbitration League.
1904 Institut de droit international (Gent, Belgium).
1905 Bertha Sophie Felicitas Baronin von Suttner, née Countess Kinsky von Chinic und Tettau (Austria-Hungary) writer, honorary president of the Permanent International Peace Bureau.
1906 Theodore Roosevelt (USA) President of the United States, for drawing up the peace treaty in the Russo-Japanese War.
1907 Ernesto Teodoro Moneta (Italy) president of the Lombard League of Peace.
Louis Renault (France) professor of International Law.
1908 Klas Pontus Arnoldson (Sweden) founder of the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Association.
Fredrik Bajer (Denmark) honorary president of the Permanent International Peace Bureau.
1909 Auguste Marie Francois Beernaert (Belgium) member of the Cour Internationale d'Arbitrage.
Paul-Henri-Benjamin d'Estournelles de Constant (France) founder and president of the French parliamentary group for international arbitration. Founder of the Comité de défense des intérets nationaux et de conciliation internationale
1910 Bureau International Permanent de la Paix ( Permanent International Peace Bureau), Berne.
1911 Tobias Michael Carel Asser (Netherlands) initiator of the International Conferences of Private Law in The Hague.
Alfred Hermann Fried (Austria-Hungary) founder of Die Waffen Nieder.
1912 Elihu Root (USA) for initiating various arbitration agreements.
1913 Henri la Fontaine (Belgium) president of the Permanent International Peace Bureau.
1914 not awarded World War I
1915 not awarded World War I
1916 not awarded World War I
1917 International Red Cross, Geneva.
1918 Not awarded
1919 Woodrow Wilson (USA) President of the United States, as foremost promoter of the League of Nations.
1920 Léon Victor Auguste Bourgeois (France) president of the Council of the League of Nations.
1921 Hjalmar Branting (Sweden) prime minister, Swedish delegate to the Council of the League of Nations.
Christian Lous Lange (Norway) secretary-general of the Inter-Parliamentary Union
1922 Fridtjof Nansen (Norway) Norwegian delegate to the League of Nations, originator of the Nansen passports for refugees.
1923 Not awarded
1925 Sir Austen Chamberlain (UK) for the Locarno Treaties.
Charles Gates Dawes (USA) chairman of the Allied Reparation Commission and originator of the Dawes Plan.
1926 Aristide Briand (France) for the Locarno Treaties.
Gustav Stresemann (Germany) for the Locarno Treaties.
1927 Ferdinand Buisson (France) founder and president of the League for Human Rights.
Ludwig Quidde (Germany) delegate to numerous peace conferences.
1928 Not awarded
1929 Frank B. Kellogg (USA) for the Kellogg-Briand Pact.
1930 Archbishop Lars Olof Nathan (Jonathan) Söderblom (Sweden) leader of the ecumenical movement.
1931 Jane Addams (USA) international president of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom
Nicholas Murray Butler (USA) for promoting the Briand-Kellogg Pact.
1932 Not awarded
1933 Sir Norman Angell (Ralph Lane) (UK) writer, member of the Executive Committee of the League of Nations and the National Peace Council.
1934 Arthur Henderson (UK) chairman of the League of Nations Disarmament Conference
1935 Carl von Ossietzky (Germany) pacifist journalist.
1936 Carlos Saavedra Lamas (Argentina) president of the League of Nations and mediator in a conflict between Paraguay and Bolivia.
1937 The Viscount Cecil of Chelwood founder and president of the International Peace Campaign.
1938 Nansen International Office For Refugees, Geneva.
1939 Not awarded World War II
1940 Not awarded
1941 Not awarded
1942 Not awarded
1943 Not awarded
1944 International Committee of the Red Cross (awarded retroactively in 1945).
1945 Cordell Hull (USA) for co-initiating the United Nations.
1946 Emily Greene Balch (USA) honorary international president of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom
John R. Mott (USA) chairman of the International Missionary Council and president of the World Alliance of Young Men's Christian Associations
1947 The Friends Service Council (UK) and The American Friends Service Committee (USA) on behalf of the Religious Society of Friends, better known as the Quakers.
1948 Not awarded Apparently it would have been awarded to Mahatma Gandhi had he not been assassinated. See the Nobel e-museum article.
1949 The Lord Boyd-Orr (UK) director general Food and Agricultural Organization, president National Peace Council, president World Union of Peace Organizations.
1950 Ralph Bunche (USA) for mediating in Palestine (1948).
1951 Léon Jouhaux (France) president of the International Committee of the European Council, vice president of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, vice president of the World Federation of Trade Unions, member of the ILO Council, delegate to the UN.
1952 Albert Schweitzer (France) for founding the Lambarene Hospital in Gabon.
1953 American Secretary of State George Catlett Marshall for the Marshall Plan.
1954 The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
1955 Not awarded
1956 Not awarded
1957 Lester Bowles Pearson (Canada) then future Prime Minister of Canada president of the 7th session of the United Nations General Assembly for introducing peacekeeping forces to resolve the Suez Crisis.
1958 Georges Pire (Belgium) leader of L'Europe du Coeur au Service du Monde, a relief organization for refugees.
1959 Philip Noel-Baker (UK) for his lifelong ardent work for international peace and co-operation.
1960 Albert Lutuli (South Africa) president of the ANC (African National Congress).
1961 Dag Hammarskjöld (Sweden) secretary-general of the UN (awarded posthumously).
1962 Linus Carl Pauling (USA) for his campaign against nuclear weapons testing.
1963 International Committee of the Red Cross, Geneva.
League of Red Cross Societies, Geneva.
1964 Martin Luther King Jr (USA) Leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, campaigner for civil rights.
1965 United Nation's International Children's Education Fund (UNICEF)
1966 Not awarded
1968 René Cassin (France) president of the European Court of Human Rights.
1969 International Labour Organization (I.L.O.), Geneva.
1970 Norman Borlaug (USA) for research at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre.
1971 Chancellor Willy Brandt (West Germany) for West Germany's Ostpolitik, embodying a new attitude towards Eastern Europe and East Germany.
1972 Not awarded
1973 Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger (USA) and Foreign Minister Lê Ðức Thọ (Vietnam, declined) for the Vietnam peace accord.
1974 Seán MacBride (Ireland) president of the International Peace Bureau and the Commission of Namibia of the United Nations.
Eisaku Sato (佐藤榮作) (Japan) prime minister.
1975 Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov (USSR) for his campaigning for human rights.
1976 Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan founders of the Northern Ireland Peace Movement (later renamed Community of Peace People).
1977 Amnesty International, London for its campaign against torture.
1978 President Mohamed Anwar Al-Sadat (Egypt) and Prime Minister Menachem Begin (Israel) for negotiating peace between Egypt and Israel.
1979 Mother Teresa (India) poverty awareness campaigner (India)
1980 Adolfo Pérez Esquivel (Argentina) human rights
1981 The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
1982 Alva Myrdal (Sweden) and Alfonso García Robles (Mexico) delegates to the United Nations General Assembly on Disarmament.
1983 Lech Wałęsa (Poland) founder of Solidarność and campaigner for human rights. Later served as the first president of Poland after the fall of Communism
1984 Bishop Desmond Mpilo Tutu (South Africa) for his work against apartheid.
1985 International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, Boston.
1986 Elie Wiesel (USA) author, Holocaust survivor
1987 President Óscar Arias Sánchez (Costa Rica) for initiating peace negotiations in Central America.
1988 United Nations Peace-Keeping Forces. For participation in numerous conflicts since 1956. At of the time of the award, 736 people from a variety of nations had lost their lives in peacekeeping efforts.
1989 Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama (Tibet). for his consistent resistance to the use of violence in his people's struggle to regain their freedom.
1990 President Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev (Михаи́л Серге́евич Горбачёв) (USSR) "for his leading role in the peace process which today characterizes important parts of the international community"
1991 Aung San Suu Kyi (Myanmar) "for her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights"
1992 Rigoberta Menchú (Guatemala) "in recognition of her work for social justice and ethno-cultural reconciliation based on respect for the rights of indigenous peoples"
1993 ANC President Nelson Mandela (South Africa) and President Frederik Willem de Klerk (South Africa) "for their work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa"
1994 PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat (ياسر عرفات) (Palestine), Foreign Minister Shimon Peres (שמעון פרס) (Israel) and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (יצחק רבין) (Israel) "for their efforts to create peace in the Middle East"
1995 Joseph Rotblat (Poland/UK) and the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs "for their efforts to diminish the part played by nuclear arms in international politics and, in the longer run, to eliminate such arms"
1996 Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo (East Timor) and José Ramos Horta (East Timor) "for their work towards a just and peaceful solution to the conflict in East Timor"
1997 International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and Jody Williams (USA) "for their work for the banning and clearing of anti-personnel mines"
1998 John Hume and David Trimble (both Northern Ireland, UK) "Awarded for their efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in Northern Ireland"
1999 Médecins Sans Frontières (France). "in recognition of the organization's pioneering humanitarian work on several continents"
2000 President Kim Dae Jung (김대중) (South Korea) "for his work for democracy and human rights in South Korea and in East Asia in general, and for peace and reconciliation with North Korea in particular"
2001 The United Nations and Secretary-General Kofi Annan (Ghana) "for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world"
2002 Jimmy Carter (USA) - former President of the United States "for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development"
2003 Shirin Ebadi (شيرين عبادي), (Iran) "for her efforts for democracy and human rights. She has focused especially on the struggle for the rights of women and children."
2004 Wangari Maathai (Kenya) "for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace"
2005 The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Mohamed ElBaradei (محمد البرادعي) (Egypt) "for their efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is used in the safest possible way"
2006 Muhammad Yunus (মুহাম্মদ ইউনুস), (Bangladesh) and Grameen Bank (গ্রামীণ ব্যাংক), (Bangladesh) "for advancing economic and social opportunities for the poor, especially women, through their pioneering microcredit work"
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