Nobel Peace Prize
Awarded forOutstanding contributions to peace: arms reduction, international cooperation, and organisations contributing to peace, and human rights contributions to peace[1]
LocationOslo, Norway
Presented byNorwegian Nobel Committee on behalf of the estate of Alfred Nobel
Reward(s)10 million SEK (2020)[2]
First awarded10 December 1901; 121 years ago (1901-12-10)[3]
Currently held byAles Bialiatski, Memorial and Centre for Civil Liberties (2022)[4]
Most awardsInternational Committee of the Red Cross (3)
WebsiteNobelprize.org

The Nobel Peace Prize (Swedish and Norwegian: Nobels fredspris) is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Swedish industrialist, inventor and armaments (military weapons and equipment) manufacturer Alfred Nobel, along with the prizes in Chemistry, Physics, Physiology or Medicine and Literature. Since March 1901,[5] 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".[6] The Oxford Dictionary of Contemporary History describes it as "the most prestigious prize in the world".[7]

In accordance with Alfred Nobel's will, the recipient is selected by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, a five-member committee appointed by the Parliament of Norway. Since 2020 the prize is awarded in the Atrium of the University of Oslo, where it was also awarded 1947–1989; the Abel Prize is also awarded in the building.[8] The prize was previously awarded in Oslo City Hall (1990–2019), 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 numerous controversies. The most recent prize for 2022 was awarded to human rights advocate Ales Bialiatski from Belarus, the Russian human rights organisation Memorial and the Ukrainian human rights organisation Centre for Civil Liberties.

Background

Alfred Nobel

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".[9] Alfred Nobel's will further specified that the prize be awarded by a committee of five people chosen by the Norwegian Parliament.[10][11]

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.[12] 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[13] and the Irish Republican Brotherhood, an Irish nationalist organization, carried out dynamite attacks in the 1880s.[14] 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.[12]

Nomination and selection

The Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo, Norway
The 14th Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize laureates
Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin presenting their 1994 Nobel Peace Prize

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

Nomination

Main article: List of individuals nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize

Each year, the Norwegian Nobel Committee specifically invites qualified people to submit nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize.[15] The statutes of the Nobel Foundation specify categories of individuals who are eligible to make nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize.[16] These nominators are:

The working language of the Norwegian Nobel Committee is Norwegian; in addition to Norwegian the committee has traditionally received nominations in French, German and English, but today most nominations are submitted in either Norwegian or English. 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.[16]

In 2009, a record 205 nominations were received,[17] but the record was broken again in 2010 with 237 nominations; in 2011, the record was broken once again with 241 nominations.[18] 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.[19] 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.[20] 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.[21] Nominations from 1901 to 1971 have been released in a database.[22]

Official statistics of Nobel Peace Prize nominees (1901–1971)
Year Total Organizations
nominated
Female
nominees
Newly
nominated
Most nominated Source
Nominations Nominees
1901 137 35 6 2 Frédéric Passy (41) [23]
1902 105 27 5 1 11 Institute of International Law (25) [24]
1903 65 25 5 2 9 Institute of International Law (19) [25]
1904 69 22 4 1 8 Bertha von Suttner (19) [26]
1905 82 24 7 3 4 Bertha von Suttner (27) [27]
1906 87 29 6 10 Thomas Barclay (12) [28]
1907 83 23 2 1 7 Ernesto Teodoro Moneta (21) [29]
1908 71 31 7 8 Fredrik Bajer (11) [30]
1909 46 26 3 11 International Peace Bureau (14) [31]
1910 71 29 5 2 11 International Peace Bureau (28) [32]
1911 67 34 6 2 11 Alfred Hermann Fried (18) [33]
1912 64 38 8 9 Adolf Richter (9) [34]
1913 77 51 10 3 13 Adolf Richter (12) [35]
1914 66 31 4 1 7 Otto Umfrid (29) [36]
1915 73 39 12 12 Albert I of Belgium (29) [37]
1916 27 25 12 1 4 Émile Arnaud (3) and
Central Organization for Durable Peace (3)
[38]
1917 22 20 7 1 4 Émile Arnaud (3) and
Swedish Peace and Arbitration League (3)
[39]
1918 25 22 11 3 Carl Sundblad (3) and
Young Men's Christian Association (3)
[40]
1919 28 13 3 1 3 Woodrow Wilson (11) [41]
1920 33 19 5 1 5 Woodrow Wilson (10) [42]
1921 17 12 2 4 Christian Lous Lange (3) and
Hans Jacob Horst (3)
[43]
1922 42 32 7 3 15 Friedrich Wilhelm Foerster (5) [44]
1923 91 35 9 2 8 Jane Addams (30) [45]
1924 53 31 8 2 10 Inter-Parliamentary Union (9) [46]
1925 73 26 7 1 5 André Weiss (17) [47]
1926 72 33 6 15 Aristide Briand (12) and
Nathan Söderblom (12)
[48]
1927 37 26 5 1 5 Ludwig Quidde (9) [49]
1928 50 24 3 2 3 Robert Baden-Powell (10) [50]
1929 79 32 6 3 11 Jane Addams (38) [51]
1930 73 39 9 1 15 Frank B. Kellogg (10) [52]
1931 75 44 11 3 18 Jane Addams (6) and
International Peace Bureau (6)
[53]
1932 74 38 7 1 14 Alejandro Álvarez (6) and
Herbert Runham Brown (6)
[54]
1933 85 55 8 1 14 Norman Angell (9) [55]
1934 103 48 7 1 17 The Hague Academy of International Law (14) [56]
1935 111 38 11 3 11 Afrânio de Melo Franco (43) [57]
1936 196 46 8 4 15 Carl von Ossietzky (86) [58]
1937 63 40 8 4 9 Robert Cecil, Viscount of Chelwood (5) and
Relief Committee for Exiled Pacifists (5)
[59]
1938 90 39 11 1 10 Cordell Hull (15) [60]
1939 59 24 4 1 6 Edvard Beneš (11) [61]
1940 No nominations due to World War II. [62]
1941 3 3 [63]
1942 No nominations due to World War II. [64]
1943 [65]
1944 [66]
1945 18 11 3 5 International Committee of the Red Cross (10) [67]
1946 31 11 3 2 5 Emily Greene Balch (13) [68]
1947 25 21 4 2 11 Mahatma Gandhi (3) and
Alexandra Kollontai (3)
[69]
1948 79 24 2 2 11 Raoul Wallenberg (22) [70]
1949 48 29 6 3 9 José Gustavo Guerrero (7) [71]
1950 77 31 6 1 15 Clarence Streit (21) [72]
1951 103 35 6 2 13 Frank Buchman (16) [73]
1952 77 30 4 2 13 Frank Buchman (22) [74]
1953 101 38 5 1 12 Frank Buchman (25) [75]
1954 54 24 6 2 4 Frank Buchman (13) [76]
1955 66 37 5 3 14 Clement Davies (8) [77]
1956 53 28 5 3 7 Frank Buchman (12) [78]
1957 37 25 3 2 7 Cândido Rondon (6) [79]
1958 52 26 5 2 3 International Chamber of Commerce (10) [80]
1959 43 32 5 4 9 Grenville Clark (9) [81]
1960 69 31 2 16 Margaret Sanger (20) [82]
1961 131 41 3 5 18 Universal Esperanto Association (33) [83]
1962 77 38 6 5 8 Universal Esperanto Association (27) [84]
1963 213 51 9 3 13 Hermann Gmeiner (62) [85]
1964 92 43 8 13 Hermann Gmeiner (25) [86]
1965 78 31 7 8 Universal Esperanto Association (31) [87]
1966 61 33 7 9 Paul G. Hoffman (11) [88]
1967 95 47 10 1 18 Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi (11) [89]
1968 78 48 14 1 17 Halvard Lange (9) [90]
1969 75 45 10 1 18 International Labour Organization (13) [91]
1970 70 39 11 2 12 Hélder Câmara (9) [92]
1971 86 40 7 1 20 Universal Esperanto Association (12) [93]
1972 to be revealed in 2023 [94]

Selection

Nominations are considered by the Nobel Committee at a meeting where a shortlist of candidates for further review is created. This shortlist 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.[95]

Awarding the prize

Obverse and reverse of the Nobel Peace Prize Medal

The Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee presents the Nobel Peace Prize in the presence of the King of Norway and the Norwegian royal family 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.[96] As of 2019, the prize was worth 9 million SEK. Since 1990, the ceremony has taken place 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 meters 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).[97]

Medal

Main article: Nobel Prize medal

The medal for the Peace Prize was designed by the Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland in 1901. Vigeland's profile sculpture of Alfred Nobel differs from Erik Lindberg's profile of Nobel on the chemistry, literature, physics, and physiology or medicine medals. The dies for Vigeland's peace medal were made by Lindberg as Vigeland was not an engraver.[98] The reverse of the medal features three men in a 'fraternal bond' and the inscription 'Pro pace et fraternitate gentium' ("For the peace and brotherhood of men").[98] The edge of the medal is inscribed with the year of its awarding, with the name of its recipeint and "Prix Nobel de la Paix".[98]

Laureates

For a more comprehensive list, see List of Nobel Peace Prize laureates.

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

As of October 2022, the Peace Prize has been awarded to 110 individuals and 27 organizations. 18 women have won the Nobel Peace Prize, more than any other Nobel Prize. 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).[99] Lê Đức Thọ is the only person who refused to accept the Nobel Peace Prize.[100]

Criticism

Some commentators have suggested that the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded in politically motivated ways for more recent or immediate achievements,[101] or with the intention of encouraging future achievements.[101][102] Some commentators have suggested that to award a peace prize on the basis of the unquantifiable contemporary opinion is unjust or possibly erroneous, especially as many of the judges cannot themselves be said to be impartial observers.[103] Further criticism holds that the Nobel Peace Prize has become increasingly politicized, in which people are awarded for aspiration rather than accomplishment, which has allowed for the prize to be used for political effect but can cause perverse consequences due to the neglect of existing power politics.[104]

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.[105]

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.[106]

The pioneer of Irenology, Johan Galtung, has not received this distinction (he has been distinguished with the so-called "alternative Nobel", the Right Livelihood Award in 1987).[107] [108] [109]

Criticism of individual conferments

Main article: Nobel Prize controversies

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

Nobel Peace Prize controversies often reach beyond the academic community. Criticisms that have been leveled against some of the awards include allegations that they were politically motivated, premature, or guided by a faulty definition of what constitutes work for peace.[110] The awards given to Mikhail Gorbachev,[111] Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat,[112][113] Lê Đức Thọ, Henry Kissinger,[114] Jimmy Carter,[115] Barack Obama,[116][117][118][119] Abiy Ahmed,[120][121][122] and the European Union[123] have all been the subject of controversy.

Notable omissions

Foreign Policy has listed Corazon Aquino, Mahatma Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt, U Thant, Václav Havel, Ken Saro-Wiwa, and Fazle Hasan Abed as people who "never won the prize, but should have".[124][125]

The omission of Mahatma Gandhi has been particularly widely discussed, including in public statements by various members of the Nobel Committee.[126][127] The committee has confirmed that Gandhi was nominated in 1937, 1938, 1939, 1947, and, finally, a few days before his assassination in January 1948.[128] The omission has been publicly regretted by later members of the Nobel Committee.[126] 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".[129] 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".[130]

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