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The Nobel Prize in Peace
Awarded for Outstanding contributions in Peace
Presented by Norwegian Nobel Committee
Country Norway
First awarded 1901
Official website

The Nobel Peace Prize (Scandinavian languages: Nobels fredspris) is one of the five Nobel Prizes bequeathed by the Swedish industrialist and inventor Alfred Nobel.



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 nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.[1]

Alfred Nobel's will declared that the prize should be awarded by a committee of five people elected by the Norwegian Parliament.

Nobel died in 1896 and did not leave an explanation for choosing peace as a 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. According to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, there's significant evidence his friendship with Bertha von Suttner, a peace activist and later winner of the prize, may have profoundly influenced his decision to include peace as a category.[2] Scholars who studied Nobel have said it was Nobel's way to compensate for developing destructive forces (Nobel's inventions included dynamite and ballistite). None of his explosives, except for ballistite, were used in any war during his lifetime,[3] although the Irish Republican Brotherhood, an Irish nationalist organization, did carry out dynamite attacks in the 1880s[4] and he was instrumental in turning Bofors from an iron company to an armaments company whilst he owned it.

It is also 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 nineteenth century, the Norwegian parliament had become closely involved in the Inter-Parliamentary Union's efforts to resolve conflicts through mediation and arbitration.[2]

Nomination and selection

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



Each year, the Norwegian Nobel Committee specifically invites qualified people to submit nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize.[5] The statutes of the Nobel Foundation specify categories of individuals who are eligible to make nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize.[6] These are;

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

Nominations must usually be submitted to the Committee by February 1 of the year in question. Nominations by committee members can be submitted up to the date of the first Committee meeting after this deadline.[6]

In 2009, a record 205 nominations were received.[7] 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.[8] Over time many individuals have become known as "Nobel Peace Prize Nominees", but this designation has no official standing.[9] Nominations from 1901 to 1955, however, have been released in a database.[10] When the past nominations were released it was discovered that Adolf Hitler was nominated in 1939 by Erik Brandt, a member of the Swedish Parliament. Brandt never intended for this nomination to be seriously considered, and submitted it in protest to the nomination of Neville Chamberlain for the prize; Brandt retracted the nomination after a few days.[11] Other infamous nominees included Joseph Stalin and Benito Mussolini. However, since nomination requires only support from one qualified person, nominations do not necessarily represent the opinion of the Nobel committee itself.[12]

Unlike the other Nobel Prizes, which recognize completed scientific or literary accomplishment, the Nobel Peace Prize may be awarded to persons or organizations that are in the process of resolving a conflict or creating peace.


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.[13]

Awarding the prize

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, currently Thorbjørn Jagland, presents the Nobel Peace Prize in the presence of the King of Norway on December 10 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] The Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony is held at the Oslo City Hall, followed the next day by the Nobel Peace Prize Concert, which is broadcast to more than 450 million households in over 150 countries around the world. The concert has received worldwide fame and the participation of top celebrity hosts and performers.

List of laureates


Unlike the scientific and literary Nobel Prizes, usually issued in retrospect, often two or three decades after the awarded achievement, the Peace Prize has been awarded for more recent or immediate achievements. Some commentators[15] 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.

The awards given to Yasser Arafat, Lê Ðức Thọ,[16] Henry Kissinger,[16] Mikhail Gorbachev, Jimmy Carter,[17] Al Gore, and Barack Obama[18][19][20] have been much-debated. The Kissinger-Thọ award prompted two dissenting Committee members to resign.[21]


Another criticism of the peace-prize is the notable omissions, namely the failure to award individuals with widely recognized contributions to peace. Foreign Policy magazine lists Mohandas Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt, Václav Havel, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Sari Nusseibeh, Corazon Aquino and Liu Xiaobo as people who "never won the prize, but should have".[22] Other notable omissions that have drawn criticism include Abdul Sattar Edhi,[23] Irena Sendler,[24] Pope John Paul II[25] and Dorothy Day.[26]

The omission of Gandhi has been particularly widely discussed, including in public statements by various members of the Nobel Committee.[27][28] The Committee has confirmed that Gandhi was nominated in 1937, 1938, 1939, 1947 and, finally, a few days before he was murdered in January 1948.[29] The omission has been publicly regretted by later members of the Nobel Committee.[27] In 1948, the year of 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".[30]

The Nobel Peace Center

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

See also


  1. ^ "Excerpt from the Will of Alfred Nobel". Nobel Foundation. Retrieved 2008-03-31. 
  2. ^ a b "Why Norway?". The Norwegian Nobel Committee. Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  3. ^ Altman, L. (2006). Alfred Nobel and the prize that almost didn't happen. New York Times. Retrieved October 14, 2006.
  4. ^ BBC History - 1916 Easter Rising - Profiles - The Irish Republican Brotherhood BBC.
  5. ^ "Nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize". Nobel Foundation. Retrieved 2009-09-10. 
  6. ^ a b "Who may submit nominations?". The Norwegian Nobel Committee. Retrieved 2009-09-10. 
  7. ^ ""President Barack Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize"". Associated Press on Retrieved 2009-10-09. 
  8. ^ "Nominations for the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize". The Norwegian Nobel Committee. Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  9. ^ Who may submit nominations - Nobels fredspris
  10. ^ "Nomination Database — The Nobel Peace Prize, 1901-1955". Retrieved 2009-10-06. 
  11. ^ Richardson, Gunnar, Förtroligt and hemligt : kunglig utrikespolitik och svensk neutralitet under andra världskriget. Stockholm : Carlsson, 2007
  12. ^ ""Selection Process"". Nobel Peace Prize Committee. Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  13. ^ "How are Laureates selected?". The Norwegian Nobel Committee. Retrieved 2009-09-10. 
  14. ^ What the Nobel Laureates Receive.
  15. ^ Murphy, Clare (2004-08-10). "The Nobel: Dynamite or damp squib?". BBC online (BBC News). Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  16. ^ a b "Worldwide criticism of Nobel peace awards". The Times. 1973-18-10. Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  17. ^ Douglas G. Brinkley. The Unfinished Presidency: Jimmy Carter's Journey to the Nobel Peace Prize (1999)
  18. ^ "Surprised, humbled Obama awarded Nobel Peace Prize". Associated Press. Retrieved 2009-10-09. 
  19. ^ Otterman, Sharon (2009-10-09), "World Reaction to a Nobel Surprise", The New York Times,, retrieved 2009-10-09 
  20. ^ "Obama Peace Prize win has Americans asking why?". Retrieved 2009-10-09. 
  21. ^ Tønnesson, Øyvind (29 June 2000). "Controversies and Criticisms". Retrieved 27 February 2010. 
  22. ^ Kenner, David. (2009, Oct. 7). "Nobel Peace Prize Also-Rans". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 2009-10-10.
  23. ^ "Abdul Sattar Edhi for the Nobel Peace Prize". Boundless Meanderings (blog). 2007-01-25. Retrieved 2009-10-10. 
  24. ^ "Irena Sendler". 2009-04-30. Retrieved 2009-10-10. 
  25. ^ "Pope John Paul II deserves the Nobel Peace Prize". The Kingdom. 2005-10-06. Retrieved 2009-10-10. 
  26. ^ Roberts, Nancy L. (1984). "Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker". ISBN 9780873959384. 
  27. ^ a b Tønnesson, Øyvind (1999-12-01). "Mahatma Gandhi, the Missing Laureate". The Nobel Foundation. Retrieved 2007-10-17. 
  28. ^
  29. ^ "The Nomination Database for the Nobel Peace Prize, 1901-1956: Gandhi". Retrieved 2008-10-13. 
  30. ^ Presentation Speech by Egil Aarvik, Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee

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