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Nobel Peace Prize
Awarded for Outstanding contributions in peace
Location Oslo
Presented by Norwegian Nobel Committee on behalf of the estate of Alfred Nobel
First awarded 1901
Official website Nobelprize.org

The Nobel Peace Prize (Norwegian and Swedish: Nobels fredspris) is one of the five Nobel Prizes created by the Swedish industrialist, inventor, and armaments manufacturer Alfred Nobel, along with the prizes in Chemistry, Physics, Physiology or Medicine, and Literature. Since 1901, 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."[1]

Per Alfred Nobel's will, the recipient is selected by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, a 5-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 (1947–89), the Norwegian Nobel Institute (1905–46), and the Parliament (1901–04).

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


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."[2]

Alfred Nobel's will further specified that the prize be awarded by a committee of five people chosen by the Norwegian Parliament.

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.[3] 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[4] and the Irish Republican Brotherhood, an Irish nationalist organization, carried out dynamite attacks in the 1880s.[5] 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.[3]

Nomination and selection[edit]

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.[6] The statutes of the Nobel Foundation specify categories of individuals who are eligible to make nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize.[7] These nominators are:

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.[7]

In 2009, a record 205 nominations were received,[8] but the record was broken again in 2010 with 237 nominations; in 2011, the record was broken once again with 241 nominations.[9] 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.[10] 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.[11] Nominations from 1901 to 1956, however, have been released in a database.[12]


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.[13]

Awarding the prize[edit]

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.[14] 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).[15]


It has been felt that the Peace Prize has been awarded in a reactionary way for more recent or immediate achievements, or with the intention of encouraging future achievements.[citation needed] 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.[16]

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.[17]

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.[18] Criticism summed up in the books of Norwegian lawyer Fredrik S. Heffermehl has instigated a call by 16 prominent Scandinavians for a criminal investigation.[19]

Criticism of individual conferments[edit]

Barack Obama with Thorbjørn Jagland
Barack Obama with Thorbjørn Jagland at the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony
Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, and Yasser Arafat receiving the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize following the Oslo Accords

The awards given to Lê Ðức Thọ and Henry Kissinger prompted two dissenting Committee members to resign.[20] Thọ refused to accept the prize, on the grounds that peace had not actually been achieved in Vietnam.

The awards given to Mikhail Gorbachev,[21] Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Menachem Begin and Yasser Arafat,[22][23] Lê Ðức Thọ, Henry Kissinger,[24] Jimmy Carter,[25] Al Gore,[26]IPCC,[27] Liu Xiaobo,[28][29][30] Barack Obama,[31][32][33] and the European Union[34] have all been the subject of controversy.

Notable omissions[edit]

Foreign Policy has listed Mahatma Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt, U Thant, Václav Havel, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Fazle Hasan Abed, Sari Nusseibeh, and Corazon Aquino as people who "never won the prize, but should have".[35][36] Other notable omissions that have drawn criticism include Pope John Paul II,[37] Hélder Câmara,[38] and Dorothy Day.[39] (Both Eleanor Roosevelt and Dorothy Day were recipients of the Gandhi Peace Award.) It was widely reported that Irena Sendler had been nominated for the 2007 prize, which was jointly awarded to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Al Gore.[40][41]

The omission of Mahatma Gandhi has been particularly widely discussed, including in public statements by various members of the Nobel Committee.[42][43] The Committee has confirmed that Gandhi was nominated in 1937, 1938, 1939, 1947, and, finally, a few days before his death in January 1948.[44] The omission has been publicly regretted by later members of the Nobel Committee.[42] 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".[45] 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."[46]

List of laureates[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "Nobel Peace Prize", The Oxford Dictionary of Twentieth Century World History
  2. ^ "Excerpt from the Will of Alfred Nobel". Nobel Foundation. Retrieved 31 March 2008. 
  3. ^ a b "Why Norway?". The Norwegian Nobel Committee. Retrieved 11 October 2009. 
  4. ^ Altman, L. (2006). Alfred Nobel and the prize that almost didn't happen. New York Times. Retrieved 14 October 2006.
  5. ^ BBC History – 1916 Easter Rising – Profiles – The Irish Republican Brotherhood BBC
  6. ^ "Nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize". Nobel Foundation. Retrieved 10 September 2009. [dead link]
  7. ^ a b "Who may submit nominations?". The Norwegian Nobel Committee. Retrieved 10 September 2009. 
  8. ^ "President Barack Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize". Associated Press on yahoo.com. Retrieved 9 October 2009. 
  9. ^ "Nominations for the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize". Nobel Foundation. Retrieved 7 October 2011. 
  10. ^ "Nominations for the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize". The Norwegian Nobel Committee. Retrieved 11 October 2009. [dead link]
  11. ^ Who may submit nominations – Nobels fredspris
  12. ^ "Nomination Database – The Nobel Peace Prize, 1901–1956". Nobelprize.org. Retrieved 11 September 2011. 
  13. ^ "How are Laureates selected?". The Norwegian Nobel Committee. Retrieved 10 September 2009. 
  14. ^ What the Nobel Laureates Receive. nobelprize.org.
  15. ^ "Prisutdelingen | Nobels fredspris". Nobelpeaceprize.org. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  16. ^ Murphy, Clare (10 August 2004). "The Nobel: Dynamite or damp squib?". BBC online (BBC News). Retrieved 11 October 2009. 
  17. ^ Aspøy, Arild (4 October 2011). "Fredsprisens gråsoner". Aftenposten (in Norwegian). p. 4. "Nobelkomiteen bør ta inn medlemmer med faglig og internasjonal bakgrunn... som gjøre en like god jobb som pensjonerte stortingsrepresentanter." 
  18. ^ Nobel, Michael (9 December 2011). "I strid med Nobels vilje". Aftenposten (in Norwegian) (Oslo, Norway). Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  19. ^ "Criminal Investigation of the Nobel Peace Prize". 25 February 2014. Retrieved 27 April 2014. 
  20. ^ Tønnesson, Øyvind (29 June 2000). "Controversies and Criticisms". Nobelprize.org. Retrieved 27 February 2010. 
  21. ^ EVOLUTION IN EUROPE; Gorbachev Gets Nobel Peace Prize For Foreign Police Achievements, New York Times, 16 October 1990
  22. ^ Said, Edward (1996). Peace and Its Discontents: Essays on Palestine in the Middle East Peace Process. Vintage. ISBN 0-679-76725-8. 
  23. ^ Gotlieb, Michael (24 October 1994). "Arafat tarnishes the Nobel trophy". The San Diego Union – Tribune. p. B7. 
  24. ^ "Worldwide criticism of Nobel peace awards". The Times (London). 18 October 1973. Retrieved 11 October 2009. 
  25. ^ Douglas G. Brinkley. The Unfinished Presidency: Jimmy Carter's Journey to the Nobel Peace Prize (1999)
  26. ^ "A Nobel Disgrace". National Review Online. 22 September 2009. Retrieved 2 October 2011. 
  27. ^ "Nobel Peace Prize nominations show how 'hopelessly politicized' and 'screwy' the controversial award has been". 14 February 2014. Retrieved 23 April 2014. 
  28. ^ "Overseas Chinese in Norway Protest Against Nobel Committee's Wrong Decision". English.cri.cn. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  29. ^ "Not so noble". Frontlineonnet.com. 5 November 2010. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  30. ^ "Nobel Harbors Political Motives behind Prize to Liu Xiaobo". English.cri.cn. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  31. ^ "Surprised, humbled Obama awarded Nobel Peace Prize". Associated Press. Retrieved 9 October 2009. [dead link]
  32. ^ Otterman, Sharon (9 October 2009), "World Reaction to a Nobel Surprise", The New York Times, retrieved 9 October 2009 
  33. ^ "Obama Peace Prize win has some Americans asking why?". Reuters.com. 9 October 2009. Retrieved 28 August 2012. 
  34. ^ "Norwegian protesters say EU Nobel Peace Prize win devalues award". Retrieved 8 December 2012. 
  35. ^ Kenner, David. (7 October 2009). "Nobel Peace Prize Also-Rans". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 10 October 2009
  36. ^ James, Frank (9 October 2009). "Nobel Peace Prize's Notable Omissions". NPR. Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  37. ^ "Pope John Paul II deserves the Nobel Peace Prize". The Kingdom. 6 June 2005. Retrieved 10 October 2009. [dead link]
  38. ^ Governo militar destrói sonho do Nobel da Paz – Sementes do Dom
  39. ^ Roberts, Nancy L. (1984). "Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker". ISBN 978-0-87395-938-4. 
  40. ^ Woo, Elaine (13 May 2008). "Irena Sendler, 98; saved 2,500 children in the Holocaust". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 5 May 2010. 
  41. ^ de Quetteville, Harry (15 March 2007). "Poland honours heroine who saved children". Telegraph. Retrieved 5 May 2010. 
  42. ^ a b Tønnesson, Øyvind (1 December 1999). "Mahatma Gandhi, the Missing Laureate". The Nobel Foundation. Retrieved 17 October 2007. 
  43. ^ [1][dead link]
  44. ^ "The Nomination Database for the Nobel Peace Prize, 1901–1956: Gandhi". Nobelprize.org. Retrieved 13 October 2008. [dead link]
  45. ^ [2] Relevance of Gandhian Philosophy in the 21st Century
  46. ^ Presentation Speech by Egil Aarvik, Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nobel_Peace_Prize — Please support Wikipedia.
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