Nobel Peace Prize

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All Nobel Peace Prizes

The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded 98 times to 131 Nobel Laureates between 1901 and 2017, 104 individuals and 27 organizations. Since the International Committee of the Red Cross has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize three times (in 1917, 1944 and 1963), and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize two times (in 1954 and 1981), there are 24 individual organizations which have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Click on the links to get more information.

(All information and images on this page is Copyright © The Norwegian Nobel Institute.)

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Jean Henry Dunant – First Nobel Peace Prize (1901) (1 of 2)

Originator Geneva Convention (Convention de Genève), Founder of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Geneva.
Jean Henry Dunant (1828-1910)
Jean Henry Dunant (1828-1910)

Founder of the Red Cross

In 1859, a battle was raging at the town of Solferino in Northern Italy. There the Swiss businessman Henry Dunant saw thousands of Italian, French and Austrian soldiers killing and maiming each other. On his own initiative, he organized aid work. Later he wrote the book A Memory of Solferino, which contained a plan: all countries should form associations to help the sick and wounded on the battlefield – whichever side they belonged to.

The result was the establishment of the International Committee of the Red Cross in 1863, and the adoption of the Geneva Convention in the following year. It laid down that all wounded soldiers in a land war should be treated as friends. Medical personnel would be protected by the red cross in a white field.

For Dunant personally, financial difficulties led to poverty and loss of social respect. But the organization he had created grew, and the underlying ideas won gradual acceptance. It pleased the ageing Dunant that the Norwegian Nobel Committee rewarded his life’s work with the Nobel Peace Prize.

Frederic Passy, First Nobel Peace Prize (1822-1912) (1 of 2)

Founder and President of first French peace society (since 1889 called Société française pour l’arbitrage entre nations).
Frederic Passy (1822-1912)
Frederic Passy (1822-1912)

Scientist, Politician and Peace Activist

At the turn of the century, everyone agreed that Frédéric Passy was a worthy Laureate. In both age and prominence, he was the “dean” of the international peace movement. Both as an economist and as a politician, he maintained that free trade between independent nations promoted peace. Passy founded the first French Peace Society, which held a congress in Paris during the 1878 World Exhibition. As an independent leftist republican in the French Chamber of Deputies, he opposed France’s colonial policy because it did not accord with the ideals of free trade.

Passy was also one of the founders of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, an organization for cooperation between the elected representatives of different countries. Despite his age, Passy kept up his work for peace after 1901. In 1905, when the conflict over the union between Sweden and Norway peaked, Passy declared that a peaceful solution would make him a hundred times happier than when he received the Nobel Prize. And Passy saw his wish fulfilled.

Elie Ducommun’s Nobel Peace Prize 1902

Optimist and Peace Activist
Élie Ducommun
Élie Ducommun

Élie Ducommun was the honorary Secretary-General of the International Peace Bureau in Berne from its establishment in 1890 and until his death. The Bureau served as the link between peace organizations in different countries. In his spare time, Ducommun prepared programs for international peace congresses, published resolutions, and corresponded with promoters of peace. In addition he published numerous writings, among which his “practical program for friends of peace” was prominent. In it, Ducommun maintained that people could be educated to choose peaceful solutions. International arbitration was the means whereby war could be prevented.

It was chiefly his work at the Peace Bureau that earned Élie Ducommun the Nobel Peace Prize, but his life’s work was many-sided. In early years he was a teacher, and then a prominent liberal democrat politician. From 1873 on he was the skilful director of the Jura-Simplon railway line, and believed that modern communications provided positive links between peoples, and could thus lead to peace.

Charles Albert Gobat’s Nobel Peace Prize 1902

Inter-Parliamentarian and Organizer
Albert Gobat
Albert Gobat

Albert Gobat was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize first and foremost for his efforts to bring popularly elected representatives from various countries together at meetings and congresses. His work as a national politician led him into international work for peace. Gobat participated in the Inter-Parliamentary Union from its beginnings in 1889. When the Inter-Parliamentary Bureau was established in Berne three years later, Gobat was chosen to be its Secretary-General. Unsalaried, he planned the conferences which the Union held each year, drew up the agendas, and drafted proposals for resolutions. He tried to set up inter-parliamentary groups in countries which had none, edited a periodical, and distributed literature about peace and arbitration.

Gobat took over as Secretary-General of the International Peace Bureau when Élie Ducommun died in 1906. This meant that he was at the same time heading the offices of both the inter-parliamentary and the popular peace movement. Gobat lived to see the International Peace Bureau honored with the Nobel Peace Prize for 1910.

William Randal Cremer’s Nobel Peace Prize 1903

Father of the Inter-Parliamentary Union
Randal Cremer
Randal Cremer

William Randal Cremer was nicknamed the “Member of Arbitration” by his colleagues in Parliament. This was not without reason. All his life he worked for the use of arbitration to resolve international conflicts, with the aim of preventing war.

Cremer held prominent positions of trust in the popular peace movement, and took the initiative for the establishment of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in 1889. The organization provided a forum where elected representatives of different countries could cooperate. It was a triumph for Cremer that the Hague Conference in 1899 resolved to establish an international court of arbitration. In Parliament, Cremer spoke out fearlessly against war, among other things criticizing the British Government for the Boer War in South Africa.

Randal Cremer’s origins were humble. He was apprenticed as a carpenter, and became a trade unionist before being elected to Parliament. In 1907 King Edward VII dubbed the old peace activist a knight, and released Cremer from the obligation to wear a sword at the ceremony.

Institut de droit international (Institute of International Law)’s Nobel Peace Prize 1904

Institut de Droit International

“Justitia et pace” – Justice and peace – is the slogan of this nongovernmental organization of lawyers, founded in 1873. The Belgian lawyer Gustave Rolin-Jaequemyns was the initiator, and the aim was to build an international institute which would be an authority on international law. The organization he created is still working to make the rules of international law, not war and violence, the guidelines for relations between sovereign states.

In 1904, the Institute of International Law won special praise for promoting international arbitration and for persuading states to accept the rules of law in wartime. The Institute was among other things given the credit for the provisions on arbitration which were adopted by the Hague Congress in 1899. In the inter-war years, the work of the Institute was very important to the League of Nations. Since 1945 the United Nations has found the reports and legal interpretations issued by the Institute of International Law very helpful.

The seat of the Institute is at the Secretary-General’s place of residence.

Baroness Bertha Sophie Felicita von Suttner, née Countess Kinsky von Chinic und Tettau Nobel Peace Prize 1905

Author and “Generalissimo of the Peace Movement”
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Bertha von Suttner

Baroness Bertha von Suttner, the first woman to be awarded the Peace Prize, wrote one of the nineteenth century’s most influential books, the anti-war novel “Lay Down Your Arms” (1889). The title was provocative to many, but the anti-militaristic message caught on. In the 1870s she became a close friend of Alfred Nobel’s, and they corresponded for years on the subject of peace. The Peace Prize Laureate became one of the leaders of the international peace movement, and in 1891 established the Austrian Peace Society. At the male-dominated peace congresses she stood out as a liberal and forceful leader. At the beginning of the new century she was referred to as the “generalissimo of the peace movement”.

There is little doubt that von Suttner’s friendship with Alfred Nobel had an impact on the contents of his will, and many give her the credit for his establishment of a peace prize. “Inform me, convince me, and then I will do something great for the movement”, Alfred Nobel said to Bertha von Suttner.

Theodore Roosevelt’s Nobel Peace Prize 1906

Imperialist and Peace Arbitrator
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Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt, President of the USA, received the Peace Prize for having negotiated peace in the Russo-Japanese war in 1904-5. He also resolved a dispute with Mexico by resorting to arbitration as recommended by the peace movement.

Roosevelt was the first statesman to be awarded the Peace Prize, and for the first time the award was controversial. The Norwegian Left argued that Roosevelt was a “military mad” imperialist who completed the American conquest of the Philippines. Swedish newspapers wrote that Alfred Nobel was turning in his grave, and that Norway awarded the Peace Prize to Roosevelt in order to win powerful friends after the dramatic dissolution of the union with Sweden the previous year.

In domestic policy, Roosevelt was a radical within the Republican Party. He went in for social reforms and for state control of big capital. Roosevelt’s term as President ended in 1908. During World War I he tried in vain to be allowed to serve as an officer, and in 1919 he opposed US membership of the new League of Nations.

Ernesto Teodoro Moneta’s Nobel Peace Prize  1907)

Champion of Peace, Officer and Journalist
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Ernesto Teodoro Moneta

Ernesto Moneta was only 15 when he first experienced war. Together with his father and brothers, he fought in the streets of Milan to free the city from the Austrians. This experience shaped his view of life: states ought to cooperate to prevent war and human slaughter. Moneta completed military training and fought with the freedom fighter Garibaldi, but left the forces and began work as a journalist. From 1867 on, he edited the daily paper Il Secolo in Milan. In his articles, Moneta wrote that the Italian army should be a popular militia only for use in wars of defense. The most important goal, however, was to cultivate a feeling of brotherhood among peoples.

Louis Renault’s Nobel Peace Prize  1907

Expert in International Law and Practical Promoter of Peace
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Louis Renault

In the opinion of the lawyer Louis Renault, peace could be brought about by strengthening international law. This was a goal for which he worked untiringly all his life. He tought at the universities in Dijon and Paris, and delivered his last lecture at the age of 75, two days before he died. He was also the French Government’s adviser in foreign policy and international law.

Renault was a delegate to the international conferences on transport and communications and on the rights of artists in the 1880s. But it was at the peace conferences at the Hague in 1899 and 1907 that he really gained his reputation as a brilliant lawyer with good practical sense. Renault was especially eager to extend the Geneva Convention to apply also to war at sea. He also sought to have the rights and obligations of neutral states in wartime defined in more precise terms.

Klas Pontus Arnoldson’s Nobel Peace Prize 1908

Author and Peace Activist
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Klas Pontus Arnoldson

Norway and Sweden were formally united from 1814 to 1905, but in 1895 the two countries were on the verge of war. Norway demanded equality within the union, whereas Sweden threatened to use force. At that point Arnoldson sent out his handbill demanding “Peace with Norway, whether the union sinks or swims”. For him, what counted most was peace: The Swedish and Norwegian “brother peoples” must never go to war with one another.

Arnoldson strove for peace all his life. He opposed all use of arms, and supported arbitration and international law. He was a pioneer in the Swedish peace movement, with an intense faith in international cooperation. This should begin in the Nordic countries, and Norway, Sweden and Denmark should join together in a union of autonomous republics with a common foreign policy.

This dream was shattered when Norway broke out of the union with Sweden in 1905. Arnoldson nevertheless spoke up for Norway’s right to independence, and looked ahead: “the idea of Europe’s United States may gradually prove stronger than the idea of Nordic unity”. The 1908 Peace Prize was a reward for efforts in connection with the conflict over the union, and a step towards thereconciliation of the two independent states.

Fredrik Bajer Nobel Peace Prize 1908

Soldier, Politician, Organizer and Peace Activist
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Fredrik Bajer

The son of a clergyman, Fredrik Bajer decided early in life to pursue a career as an officer. He fought in the Dano-German war in 1864, but left the forces the following year, disillusioned with military life. From then on, he devoted his life to the cause of peace. He was elected a member of the Danish national assembly, figured prominently in inter-parliamentary work, and has been given the credit for the establishment of the International Peace Bureau in 1891.

Bajer believed that organizing the forces for peace was an important means of bringing peace about. He was a strong supporter of international arbitration. Bajer was moreover a republican, and maintained vigorously that the Nordic countries ought to be neutral and conduct a joint foreign policy. Together with his wife, Mathilde Bajer, he founded the Danish Women’s Society. As Fredrik Bajer saw it, work for equal rights was also work for peace.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1909

Auguste Marie François Beernaert and Paul Henri Benjamin Balluet d’Estournelles de Constant, Baron de Constant de Rebecque

The Nobel Peace Prize 1909 was awarded jointly to Auguste Marie François Beernaert and Paul Henri Benjamin Balluet d’Estournelles de Constant, Baron de Constant de Rebecque.

beernaert
beernaert

Prime Minister and Inter-Parliamentarian

Auguste Beernaert was one of Belgium’s most skilful lawyers. In 1873 he became a member of the Government, and from 1884 to 1894 he was King Leopold II’s Prime Minister. After resigning from the Government, however, he became opposed to the King because of the brutal policy pursued in the Congo, but he remained a member of parliament all his life. It was through his inter-parliamentary work and at the international peace conferences at the Hague in 1899 and 1907 that he became known as a friend of peace.

At the Hague, among other assignments, he headed the commission dealing with the laws and customs of land warfare, and with regard to the question of neutrality he pleaded the cause of the small states. When the first case came up before the International Court at the Hague in 1902 (USA against Mexico), Beernaert acted for Mexico. Towards the end of his life, Beernaert endeavored to prevent aerial warfare. A few days before he died he submitted a proposal against such warfare.

balluet
balluet

Diplomat, Politician and Internationalist

Despite his aristocratic title, d’Estournelles was a radical republican. He believed that the cultured peoples of Europe should join together in the united states of Europe. Good organization of the international community was the best guarantee of peace. d’Estournelles began his career as a diplomat, but was elected to the Chamber of Deputies in 1895; for the last twenty years of his life he was a Senator.

d’Estournelles supported binding arbitration between states, and on a visit to the USA he persuaded President Theodore Roosevelt to make use of the International Court at the Hague. He also urged Andrew Carnegie to donate money to the Peace Palace. Before World War I he worked for reconciliation between Germany and France. In 1918 he wanted a just peace with Germany, and was critical of the Versailles Treaty which in his view was too harsh. He pinned high hopes on the new League of Nations.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1910

Bureau international permanent de la Paix (Permanent International Peace Bureau)
peace bureau
peace bureau

The Heart and Brains of the Peace Societies

After 1870, a popular peace movement grew up and spread in Europe and the USA. In a number of countries men and women of the bourgeoisie took initiatives to establish peace societies. They would work for the cause of peace in their local communities. They campaigned for disarmament and for the use of mediation and arbitration in the solution of international disputes.

In due course a need was felt for an office that could coordinate and direct these activities. On the initiative of the Dane Fredrik Bajer (Peace Prize Laureate in 1908), the International Peace Bureau was opened in 1891, located in Berne, Switzerland. The Swiss Élie Ducommun (Peace Prize Laureate in 1902) was the Peace Bureau’s first secretary-general. The Bureau published a journal and held annual peace congresses. In 2005 the IPB had over 170 member organizations. Its headquarters is in Geneva.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1911

Tobias Michael Carel Asser and Alfred Hermann Fried
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Tobias Asser

The Nobel Peace Prize 1911 was awarded jointly to Tobias Michael Carel Asser and Alfred Hermann Fried

The Hugo Grotius of his Day

The lawyer Tobias Asser was a co-founder in 1873 of the Institute of International Law, the first organization to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (1904). Asser was an expert in international private law. At several conferences in the 1890s, he advocated that the world’s states should enter into binding agreements on how private law disputes must be settled. This related for instance to matters concerning marriage, separation and divorce. His text-book in international private law was translated into several languages.

Asser was also active at the international peace conferences at the Hague in 1899 and 1907, where he sought to extend and improve the Geneva Convention. But it was to his work in the field of private law that the greatest importance was attached when he was awarded the Peace Prize. Knowledge of the legal framework in other countries would promote peace. There were good reasons, then, for comparing Tobias Asser with his countryman Hugo Grotius, the founder of international law in 1600s.

fried postcard
Alfred Fried

Peace Philosopher, Publisher and Popularizer

An optimist where human development was concerned, Alfred H. Fried held that societies would gradually grow more peaceful. Politicians and friends of peace should work hard to organize the international community. That was why Fried was enthusiastic about the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague.

Fried moved to Germany and was a co-founder of the German Peace Society. But Fried’s life’s-work lay in publishing and writing. He collaborated for decades with the 1905 Peace Prize Laureate, the Austrian baroness Bertha von Suttner, and she was a frequent contributor to his periodicals Die Waffen Nieder! and Die Friedens-Warte. Fried himself wrote thousands of articles and published a number of works. His approach was to popularize the thoughts and opinions of experts in international law, and his goal was a new and peaceful organization of society.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1912

From Secretary of War to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
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Elihu Root

The Nobel Peace Prize 1912 was awarded to Elihu Root.

Elihu Root was the brilliant lawyer who became US Secretary of War and Secretary of State between 1901 and 1909. He subsequently became a Senator and the first president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Root was awarded the Peace Prize for having pursued the aim that conflicts between states must be resolved by arbitration. After World War I he participated in the development of the Permanent Court of International Justice at the Hague.

As President Theodore Roosevelt’s Secretary of War, Root helped to bring Pacific and Latin American territories under US control. The Philippines, Cuba and Panama were occupied. Both Roosevelt and Root believed that the US was entitled to lead and govern people whom they believed to be uncivilized.

As Secretary of State, Root sought to alleviate Latin American fears of an imperialistic USA by arranging peace conferences. This led to good relations with the international peace movement, and several former Laureates nominated Elihu Root for the Peace Prize.

 

The Nobel Peace Prize 1913

Socialist, Lawyer, Parliamentarian
fontaine
Henri La Fontaine

The Nobel Peace Prize 1913 was awarded to Henri La Fontaine.

Henri La Fontaine was the first socialist to win the Nobel Peace Prize. He held a doctorate in law, and in the Belgian parliament took a special interest in social policy and foreign affairs. But La Fontaine’s greatest work was as an activist in the international peace movement. He was a strong champion of internationalism. He set up an institute which collected documentation from all over the world on international matters. In 1910 he also organized a world conference for international organizations. Its purpose was to create “an intellectual parliament” for humanity.

La Fontaine held high positions of trust in the peace movement. He was president of the International Peace Bureau from 1907 until his death. When he was awarded the Peace Prize in 1913, he was the effective leader of the peace movement in Europe.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1914

No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1915

No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1916

No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1917

Comité international de la Croix Rouge (International Committee of the Red Cross)
red cross
International Committee of the Red Cross

The Nobel Peace Prize 1917 was awarded to International Committee of the Red Cross.

The International Committee of the Red Cross

The International Committee of the Red Cross was founded in 1863 on the initiative of the Swiss Henry Dunant, Peace Prize Laureate in 1901. It consisted – and still consists – exclusively of Swiss nationals. In the following year, the first Geneva Convention was adopted, “for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field”. The organization’s symbol, the red cross on a white background, was to protect both friend and enemy. In the years that followed, more and more states joined and set up national committees. The leadership exercised by the Swiss Red Cross committee won broad recognition, although it had no international mandate. In 1906 the Geneva Convention was extended to apply also to war at sea.

When World War I broke out in 1914, the International Committee of the Red Cross faced a huge task. It not only upheld the principles of the Geneva Convention, but also undertook to protect the interests of prisoners of war.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1918

No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1919

wilson
Woodrow Wilson

The Nobel Peace Prize 1919 was awarded to Woodrow Wilson.

Father of the League of Nations

President Woodrow Wilson of the United States won the Peace Prize for 1919 as the leading architect behind the League of Nations. It was to ensure world peace after the slaughter of millions of people in the First World War.

After the outbreak of war in 1914, it was Wilson’s policy to keep the United States out. But Germany’s unrestricted submarine offensive sank American ships, and in 1917 Wilson took the United States into the war. While severely critical of those at home who opposed the war, he presented his Fourteen Points program for peace. Wilson recommended national self-government for oppressed peoples, a conciliatory attitude to losers in the war, and a league of nations to ensure post-war peace.

The peace negotiations in Paris were a disappointment to Wilson. Britain and France insisted that Germany must pay an enormous indemnity and accept the blame for the war. Subsequently the Senate refused to approve US membership of the new League of Nations. For this reason there was disagreement about Wilson in the Nobel Committee, until a majority decided to give him the Prize.

Watch Documentary on Woodrow Wilson

The Nobel Peace Prize 1920

Léon Victor Auguste Bourgeois
bourgeois
Léon Bourgeois

The Nobel Peace Prize 1920 was awarded to Léon Bourgeois.

Campaigner for a League of Nations

Léon Bourgeois took part in the Franco-German war of 1870-71, which ended in the defeat of France. He trained as a lawyer and became Chief of Police in Paris. In that position, he helped to prevent a military coup by a general who wanted to launch a revanchist war against Germany.

Bourgeois became politically active in the Republican Party. In 1895 he became Prime Minister, but resigned when he failed to gain a majority for a program to fight poverty. Bourgeois became involved in international peace work through the Hague Conferences of 1899 and 1907. In his view, conflicts must be resolved by arbitration and an international court.

During World War I, Bourgeois drew up a proposal for a global organization that would secure peace. He wanted to give the organization greater supranational authority than US President Woodrow Wilson was willing to accept. The new League of Nations that emerged in 1919 was largely modeled on Wilson’s ideas, but Bourgeois did see an international court established in the Hague.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1921

Karl Hjalmar Branting and Christian Lous Lange

The Nobel Peace Prize 1921 was awarded jointly to Karl Hjalmar Branting and Christian Lous Lange

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Karl Hjalmar Branting

With the Labor Movement for Peace

In 1921, Sweden’s Prime Minister Hjalmar Branting shared the Peace Prize with the Norwegian secretary-general of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Christian Lange. They were both staunch supporters of the new League of Nations and of international cooperation. In 1905 Branting had moreover pleaded Norway’s cause to conservative Swedes who wanted to keep Norway in its union with Sweden by force.

Branting had an upper-middle-class Stockholm background. As a student he became politically radical. He became a journalist, and in 1889 helped to found Sweden’s Social Democratic party. Branting became a leading figure in the struggle for equal rights and social justice in Sweden, a struggle to be conducted by peaceful means, not revolution. In 1920 Branting became Prime Minister, and at the same time a delegate to the new League of Nations in Geneva. He accepted the League resolution that the Åland Islands in the Baltic should fall to Finland rather than Sweden. In 1922 Branting became a member of the Council of the League of Nations and arbitrated in many international disputes.

Champion of Internationalism

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Christian Lous Lange

In 1921, the Norwegian Christian Lange shared the Peace Prize with the Swede Hjalmar Branting. They both wanted to strengthen the new world organization the League of Nations.

Lange qualified as a high school teacher. Owing to his knowledge of history and skills in English and French, he was appointed secretary and advisor to the Norwegian Nobel Committee. He helped establishing the Nobel Institute in Oslo, and was also active on the Norwegian side when the union between Norway and Sweden was peacefully dissolved in 1905.

In 1909, Lange became secretary-general of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. He built up the organization and managed to hold it together during World War I. In 1919 Lange got a doctorate on the history of internationalism, and was called in as an expert to the first meeting of the League of Nations in 1920. Later he was for many years a Norwegian delegate to the League, where he warned against the failure of the democratic great powers to stand up firmly to the aggressive policies of Japan, Italy and Germany. Lange became a member of the Nobel Committee in 1934.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1922

Fridtjof Nansen
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Fridtjof Nansen

The Nobel Peace Prize 1922 was awarded to Fridtjof Nansen.

Polar Explorer and High Commissioner for Refugees

In 1922, the Norwegian Fridtjof Nansen became the first High Commissioner for Refugees appointed by the League of Nations. After the First World War, he was in charge of the exchanges of 400,000 prisoners of war between Russia, Germany, and the former Austria-Hungary. Nansen also engaged in humanitarian relief work in 1921, during the severe famine in the Soviet Union. His work on behalf of prisoners of war and starving people earned him the Peace Prize.

Nansen was a scientist, polar hero, political activist and diplomat. He got a PhD in zoology in 1888. In the same year, he was the first to cross Greenland’s inland ice. He subsequently failed to reach the North Pole, but became internationally famous nevertheless. Nansen was a nationalist activist when Norway broke out of its union with Sweden in 1905.

After 1922, the League of Nations provided “Nansen passports” to stateless refugees to enable them to cross national borders. Nansen was himself made responsible for separating Greeks and Turks after the war between the two countries. In the last years of his life, he took up the Armenian cause.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1923

No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1924

No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1925

Sir Austen Chamberlain and Charles Gates Dawes
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Sir Austen Chamberlain

The Nobel Peace Prize 1925 was awarded jointly to Sir Austen Chamberlain and Charles Gates Dawes

For Reconciliation between Germany and France

Austen Chamberlain shared the Peace Prize for 1925 with the American Charles Dawes. They received it in 1926, together with the Laureates for that year, the Frenchman Aristide Briand and the German Gustav Stresemann. The four Prizes were awarded for work aimed at ensuring peace between the arch-rivals Germany and France.

Austen Chamberlain grew up in a family of well-known British politicians. His father, Joseph, was a member of several Governments and an eager “empire builder”. His half-brother, Neville, was Prime Minister when Hitler started World War II in 1939.

Austen Chamberlain studied in France and Germany before entering politics in the Conservative Party. He joined the Government in World War I, and took part in the peace negotiations at Versailles in 1919. Chamberlain became Foreign Secretary in 1924, and gave Britain’s support when the German Foreign Minister Gustav Stresemann initiated negotiations in the Swiss town of Locarno aimed at Franco-German reconciliation.

The Dawes Plan for Détente

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Charles Gates Dawes

Charles Dawes received the Peace Prize for 1925 for having contributed to reducing the tension between Germany and France after the First World War.

Dawes’ background was as a lawyer and businessman. He came into politics when he headed the presidential election campaign of the Republican candidate William McKinley in 1896. McKinley won but was shot in 1901, and Dawes returned to business life. Dawes did not return to public life until USA entered World War I in 1917. He was sent to Europe as an officer, and was put in charge of all supplies to the Allies at the front.

After the war, the Germans resented France’s occupation of parts of the country, intended to force them to pay reparations. Tension between the two countries rose. Dawes headed an international committee set up to assess Germany’s situation. In 1924, the committee presented the Dawes Plan. Germany was granted American loans enabling it to pay indemnity. In return, France ceased its occupation.

 

The Nobel Peace Prize 1926

Aristide Briand and Gustav Stresemann
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Aristide Briand

The Nobel Peace Prize 1926 was awarded jointly to Aristide Briand and Gustav Stresemann

For Franco-German Reconciliation

The French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand shared the Peace Prize for 1926 with the German Foreign Minister Gustav Stresemann. They were awarded the Prize for reconciliation between Germany and France after World War I.

Aristide Briand pursued a career in the French Socialist Party after having read law at the Sorbonne. He entered the government in 1906 and spearheaded the devolution of France’s state church. From 1909 on, he was Prime Minister for various periods, including during the war.

The war convinced Briand that a peace treaty must not lay the foundations for a revanchist war. He accordingly opposed the harsh treatment meted out to Germany after the war. Briand was also critical of the French occupation of parts of Germany as a means of obtaining war indemnity. In 1925 he signed a reconciliation agreement with Germany in the Swiss town of Locarno. Briand later made unsuccessful attempts to persuade the USA to guarantee France’s security.

For Franco-German Reconciliation

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Gustav Stresemann

The German Foreign Minister Gustav Stresemann shared the Peace Prize for 1926 with the French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand. They were honored for having signed an agreement of reconciliation between their two countries in the Swiss town of Locarno in 1925.

Before entering politics and becoming Foreign Minister, Stresemann had studied literature, history and economics and worked in business. In 1907 he was elected to the German Reichstag. In the field of foreign policy, he stood out as an eager imperialist who demanded “a place in the sun” for Germany.

During World War I, he supported Germany’s annexation of territories from neighboring countries. But with the war going badly, he believed that Germany should sue for peace. He was shocked at the harsh terms accorded Germany at the peace negotiations in 1919, but opposed the idea that Germany should sabotage the peace treaty. Stresemann was Prime Minister for a short time in 1923, before as Foreign Minister initiating reconciliation with France.

 

The Nobel Peace Prize 1927

Ferdinand Buisson and Ludwig Quidde
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Ferdinand Buisson

The Nobel Peace Prize 1927 was awarded jointly to Ferdinand Buisson and Ludwig Quidde

For Human Rights and Franco-German Reconciliation

Ferdinand Buisson grew up under the nineteenth-century dictatorship of Emperor Napoleon III. He studied philosophy and pedagogy, and moved to Switzerland so as to be able to work, think, and write freely. All his life he was committed to the advancement of democracy and human rights.

After the Franco-German war of 1870-71 and the Emperor’s fall, Buisson returned to France, where he became professor of pedagogy at the Sorbonne. He took a stand against the anti-Semitism in French society, and in 1902 he was elected to the Chamber of Deputies for the Radical Socialists. There he also became a spokesman for women’s suffrage.

In World War I, Buisson denounced Germany as the aggressor, but was strongly opposed to the harsh treatment to which it was subjected after the war. He feared it would lay the foundations for a revanchist war on Germany’s part, and arranged meetings aimed at Franco-German reconciliation. This work gained him the Peace Prize together with the German Ludwig Quidde.

Opposed German War Policy

quidde postcard
Ludwig Quidde

Ludwig Quidde was awarded the Peace Prize in 1927 for his lifelong work in the cause of peace. He shared the Prize with the Frenchman Ferdinand Buisson.

Quidde had a doctorate in history, but received no official appointments because of his opposition to the German Kaiser. He became a member of the International Peace Bureau, and endeavored to reduce the hostility between Germany and France after the Franco-German war in 1870-71.

In 1907 he was elected to the German Reichstag, and later became president of the German Peace Society. During World War I he spoke against Germany’s annexation of territory from neighboring countries, and as a result he was placed under political surveillance. Quidde was disappointed at the harsh treatment of Germany after the war, but continued to work against rearmament and German revanchism. When Hitler came to power, he fled to Switzerland, where he lived for the rest of his life.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1928

No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section.

 

The Nobel Peace Prize 1929

Frank Billings Kellogg
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Frank Billings Kellogg

The Nobel Peace Prize 1929 was awarded to Frank B. Kellogg.

A Plan for World Peace

The US Secretary of State Frank Kellogg was awarded the Peace Prize for having been one of the initiators of the Briand-Kellogg Pact of 1928. Almost all the world’s states signed this pact, which prohibited wars of aggression. The original initiative came from the French Foreign Minister and Peace Prize Laureate Aristide Briand. He had sought a Franco-American agreement which would keep France secure from German revanchism after Germany’s defeat in World War I. The United States was not interested, so Kellogg proposed a more extensive but looser pact. In addition, he demanded exceptions, to prevent harm to US interests on the American continent. This led to disagreement in the Nobel Committee, until a majority decided to award Kellogg the Peace Prize.

Beginning in modest circumstances, Frank Kellogg achieved wealth as a star lawyer. In 1917 he was elected to the Senate for the Republicans. After World War I he was US Ambassador to Great Britain until he was appointed Secretary of State.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1930

Lars Olof Jonathan (Nathan) Söderblom
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Lars Olof Jonathan (Nathan)Söderblom

The Nobel Peace Prize 1930 was awarded to Nathan Söderblom.

Cooperation between Christian Church Communities Brings Peace

The Swedish bishop Nathan Söderblom was the first clergyman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. As a student he was active in the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), and in the international Christian student movement.

Söderblom obtained a doctorate at the Sorbonne and became a professor of theology at the University of Uppsala. In 1914 he was appointed archbishop.

As a church leader, he wanted most passionately to create a common Christian platform for peace, and this was the work for which he was awarded the Peace Prize. Söderblom was the prime mover behind the Universal Conference on Life and Work in Stockholm in 1925, a church meeting which declared its support for efforts to bring about an international system of justice and arbitration, as well as for the League of Nations. Since the Church had a supranational call, all Christian church communities were called on to fight unhealthy nationalism, racism, militarism and the oppression of minorities. At the same time, Jesus’ message of love must be disseminated from pulpits, in newspapers, and in school. By such means one would create a powerful body of Christian opinion across national borders in favor of peace.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1931

Jane Addams and Nicholas Murray Butler
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Jane Addams

The Nobel Peace Prize 1931 was awarded jointly to Jane Addams and Nicholas Murray Butler

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

Jane Addams was the second woman to receive the Peace Prize. She founded the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom in 1919, and worked for many years to get the great powers to disarm and conclude peace agreements.

In the USA, Jane Addams worked to help the poor and to stop the use of children as industrial laborers. She ran Hull House in Chicago, a center which helped immigrants in particular.

During World War I, she chaired a women’s conference for peace held in the Hague in the Netherlands, and tried in vain to get President Woodrow Wilson of the USA to mediate peace between the warring countries. When the USA entered the war instead, Jane Addams spoke out loudly against this. She was consequently stamped a dangerous radical and a danger to US security.

Addams was critical of the peace treaty that was forced on Germany in 1919, maintaining that it was so humiliating that it would lead to a German war of revenge. At the end of her life, Jane Addams was honored by the American government for her efforts for peace.

Top-Flight Peace Activist

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Nicholas Murray Butler

Nicholas Butler shared the Peace Prize for 1931 with Jane Addams. He received it for his efforts to strengthen international law and the International Court at the Hague.

Butler studied both in France and in Germany. He became a friend of Kaiser Wilhelm II, and later of President Theodore Roosevelt. In 1902 he became President of Columbia University.

Butler participated in peace conferences and established contacts with several Peace Prize Laureates. During World War I he broke off his connections with Germany and was a warm supporter of United States entry into the war. In 1919 he opposed US entry into the new League of Nations, fearing that America’s hands would be tied at the expense of national interests.
In 1925, Butler became President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. In his opinion, peace could only be achieved by an elite. Butler had close contacts with Europe’s leading statesmen, and supported the French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand, enabling the signing of the Briand-Kellogg Pact forbidding wars of aggression in 1928.

Jane Addam’s Nobel Peace Prize Lecture (1931)

Download Jane Addams Nobel Lecture

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

Jane Addams was the second woman to receive the Peace Prize. She founded the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom in 1919, and worked for many years to get the great powers to disarm and conclude peace agreements.

In the USA, Jane Addams worked to help the poor and to stop the use of children as industrial laborers. She ran Hull House in Chicago, a center which helped immigrants in particular.

During World War I, she chaired a women’s conference for peace held in the Hague in the Netherlands, and tried in vain to get President Woodrow Wilson of the USA to mediate peace between the warring countries. When the USA entered the war instead, Jane Addams spoke out loudly against this. She was consequently stamped a dangerous radical and a danger to US security.

Addams was critical of the peace treaty that was forced on Germany in 1919, maintaining that it was so humiliating that it would lead to a German war of revenge. At the end of her life, Jane Addams was honored by the American government for her efforts for peace. (Copyright © The Norwegian Nobel Institute)

The Nobel Peace Prize 1932

No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1933

Sir Norman Angell (Ralph Lane)
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Sir Norman Angell (Ralph Lane)

The Nobel Peace Prize 1933 was awarded to Sir Norman Angell

Information and Education Bring Peace

The British journalist and author Norman Angell is the only person to have been awarded the Peace Prize for publishing a book. In 1910 he wrote The Great Illusion, of which over two million copies were sold and which was translated into 25 languages.

Angell analyzed the nature of war, concluding that the danger of mutual destruction of both aggressors and defenders had made armed conflict unprofitable. He believed in peaceful development, because the expansion of free trade would create greater interdependence between states and because improved education would make war irrational and uncivilized. Angell’s peace concept became known as “angellism” and was disseminated through a network of societies for peace. The outbreak in August 1914 of World War I appeared to refute his main thesis, however.

When in the autumn of 1934 the Nobel Committee awarded Angell the Prize that had been reserved from 1933, he was praised for his work as educator and defender of the League of Nations.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1934

Arthur Henderson
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Arthur Henderson

The Nobel Peace Prize 1934 was awarded to Arthur Henderson.

Peace through Disarmament

In contrast to the vast majority of the Peace Prize Laureates before him, the winner in 1934 had neither upper-class origins nor university training. Arthur Henderson grew up in a working-class family in the Scottish city of Glasgow. Poverty made it impossible for him to complete elementary school, but thanks to participation in trade unions and work in Christian congregations, he qualified himself for an impressive career in politics. He was one of the founders of the British Labour Party, and became Party Secretary, chairman of the party’s Executive Committee, and a Member of Parliament. In the inter-war years he was both Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary.

Henderson was a warm supporter of the League of Nations, and one of the principal architects behind the organization’s disarmament conference. He was elected to chair the conference, and managed to keep the negotiations going despite opposition from the great powers and from his own government.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1935

Carl von Ossietzky
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Carl von Ossietzky

The Nobel Peace Prize 1935 was awarded to Carl von Ossietzky.

Anti-Nazi and Concentration Camp Prisoner

The journalist and socialist Carl von Ossietzky was one of the foremost critics of political developments in Germany in the inter-war years. He revealed that the German authorities were secretly engaging in rearmament contrary to the Versailles Treaty. For this he was found guilty of treason and imprisoned. After the seizure of power by the Nazis in 1933 he was arrested again and sent to a concentration camp.

An international campaign was organized to have Ossietzky released. As one step in this campaign, he was nominated for the Peace Prize. It attracted attention that the Norwegian Royal Family stayed away from the award ceremony in December 1936, probably prompted by the Government, which feared German reactions.

Hitler reacted to the news of Ossietzky’s Peace Prize with fury, and prohibited all Germans from receiving the Nobel Prize. The seriously ill Laureate was refused permission to leave for Norway to accept the distinction. He died in a prison hospital in May 1938.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1936

Carlos Saavedra Lamas
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Carlos Saavedra Lamas

The Nobel Peace Prize 1936 was awarded to Carlos Saavedra Lamas.

Latin America’s First Peace Prize Laureate

The first Peace Prize Laureate from a country outside Western Europe and the United States was the Argentine Carlos Saavedra Lamas. He came of landed gentry and got a PhD in law before becoming professor of constitutional law. At the age of thirty he was elected as a conservative representative to the legislative assembly, and after serving as both Minister of Justice and Minister of Education he took over the post of Foreign Minister in 1932.

When Argentina joined the League of Nations in 1932, Saavedra Lamas deserved much of the credit, and he played a leading role in the organization’s condemnation of Italy’s war on Ethiopia in 1936. He made important contributions to the peace negotiations between Paraguay and Bolivia after the so-called “Chaco war” in the 1930s. He also won praise for his work on South America’s anti-war pact, which by 1936 had been signed by 31 states altogether. The pact promoted the principle under international law of condemning all wars of aggression.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1937

Cecil of Chelwood, Viscount (Lord Edgar Algernon Robert Gascoyne Cecil)
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Robert Cecil

The Nobel Peace Prize 1937 was awarded to Robert Cecil.

Foremost Defender of the League of Nations

The British politician, diplomat and peace activist Lord Robert Cecil came of an aristocratic family from which had sprung as many as four prime ministers. After reading law at Oxford, he worked for a number of years as a lawyer, before being elected to Parliament in 1906 as a Conservative.

During World War I he was Minister of Blockade, and at the Versailles peace conference he played a leading part in the formulation of the rules of the League of Nations. In 1919 he participated in the founding of the League of Nations Union (LNU), which in the inter-war years became Britain’s most important extra-parliamentary pressure group in the field of foreign policy.

In 1937 Lord Cecil spearheaded a nationwide signature campaign demanding that the League of Nations adopt economic and military penal sanctions against violators of the peace. He was also among the leaders of the International Peace Campaign (IPC), which worked for disarmament and collective security through the League of Nations.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1938

Office international Nansen pour les Réfugiés (Nansen International Office for Refugees)
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Nansen International Office for Refugees

The Nobel Peace Prize 1938 was awarded to Nansen International Office for Refugees.

The Nansen International Office for Refugees

The Nansen Office was set up in 1930 in accordance with a League of Nations resolution to keep up the relief work that had been launched by Fridtjof Nansen, the first high commissioner for refugees. Early in the 1930s, the Office was busy in helping Armenians who had been driven out of Turkey, and it was an important driving force behind the drawing up of the League of Nations Refugee Convention.

Later in the 1930s, the organization cared mainly for refugees located in Central and South-eastern Europe, France, Syria and China. The Office ran refugee camps, issued passports to the stateless (Nansen passports), and helped to provide visas, jobs, medicine and food.

The Nansen Office was closed in 1938, but its activities have been carried on by a new Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees which has its seat in London.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1939

No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1940

No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1941

No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1942

No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1943

No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1944

Comité international de la Croix Rouge (International Committee of the Red Cross)
red cross
International Committee of the Red Cross

The Nobel Peace Prize 1944 was awarded to International Committee of the Red Cross.

The Staunchest Supporter of Prisoners of War

When World War II ended, the International Committee of the Red Cross received the Nobel Prize for Peace for the second time. The main reason given was its work on behalf of prisoners of war. In accordance with the Geneva Convention of 1929, the Red Cross had during the war years established contacts between prisoners of war and their families, sent parcels of clothes, medicine and food, inspected prison camps, and organized prisoner exchanges.

The Nobel Committee was not aware that the Red Cross was fully informed of the Nazi extermination of Jews. This was not known until the 1980s. It then emerged that in 1942 the organization had adopted a resolution to keep silent. It feared that publication of the atrocities might trigger reprisals against prisoners of war or provoke military action against neutral Switzerland. It was also afraid that the cooperation between the ICRC and the Swiss government might collapse. The Red Cross has since expressed regret for this suppression of the facts.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1945

Cordell Hull
hull
Cordell Hull

The Nobel Peace Prize 1945 was awarded to Cordell Hull.

Father of the United Nations

In 1945, the year of Norway’s liberation from Nazi-German occupation, the Nobel Committee wished to show its support for the establishment of the new world organization, the United Nations. This was done by awarding the Peace Prize to Cordell Hull, the man known as the “father of the United Nations”. The decision has a parallel in 1920, when President Woodrow Wilson received the same distinction as the chief architect behind the League of Nations.

The lawyer and Democrat from Tennessee was US Secretary of State from 1933 to 1944. Hull was nominated for the Peace Prize several times in the second half of the 1930s for having conducted a policy of fraternization with Latin America and for having negotiated free trade agreements with a number of states. During World War II he played a prominent part in the planning of the United Nations, which replaced the League of Nations in 1945.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1946

Emily Greene Balch and John Raleigh Mott
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Emily Greene Balch

A Radical Champion of Peace

When Emily Greene Balch was given the Peace Prize in 1946 for her lifelong work for disarmament and peace, she received no congratulations from the US government. The official US had long regarded her as a dangerous radical.

The sociologist Balch studied the living conditions of workers, immigrants, minorities and women, and this resulted in her declaring herself a socialist as early as in 1906. During World War I she worked with the 1931 Peace Prize Laureate Jane Addams to persuade the heads of state of neutral countries to intervene to stop the war. When the US entered the war, the anti-war campaigners Addams and Balch were stamped as dangerous dissidents.

In 1935 Emily Greene Balch became leader of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. She warned against fascism, and criticised the western democracies for not attempting to stop Hitler’s and Mussolini’s aggressive policies.

Friendship among Christians Brings Peace

mott
John Raleigh Mott

The Peace Prize for 1946 was awarded to the head of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), the American John Raleigh Mott, who according to the Nobel Committee had contributed to the creation of a peace-promoting religious brotherhood across national boundaries.

Mott grew up in a settler family in Iowa, strongly influenced by Puritan ideals, and took a bachelor’s degree in history at Cornell University. As a student Mott received a religious call to spread the Gospel, after which he devoted most of his life to the YMCA, to missionary activities, and ecumenical work.

As general-secretary of the International Committee of the YMCA and president of YMCA’s World Committee, Mott sought to advance understanding and reconciliation. He organized youth exchanges, set up study groups, and arranged international youth camps. Mott was at the same time a leading figure in the field of international Christian student and missionary cooperation, and took part during both World Wars in relief work for prisoners of war. He criticised the oppression of colonial peoples and was a pioneer in the struggle against racial discrimination.

 

 

The Nobel Peace Prize 1947

Friends Service Council (The Quakers) and American Friends Service Committee (The Quakers)

The Nobel Peace Prize 1947 was awarded jointly to Friends Service Council (The Quakers) and American Friends Service Committee (The Quakers)

“Children of Light”

friends council postcard
Friends Service Council (The Quakers)

On the occasion of the tercentenary in 1947 of the foundation of the Christian community the Quakers, the Nobel Committee resolved to award the Peace Prize to the congregation’s two aid organizations. One was The Friends Service Council, which had been established in 1927 to carry out the missionary and aid work of the British Quakers. Its activities were founded in ancient traditions. In accordance with the belief that God’s goodness shows itself in good deeds, the Quakers had for a long time been engaged in providing aid to the poor and sick. They regarded social injustice and intolerance as important causes of war, and spearheaded the struggles against slavery, for social reforms, and for women’s rights.

The Quakers opposed the use of arms and in the early 1800s took part in the foundation of the first peace societies. In both World Wars they took part in humanitarian aid projects for military and civilian war victims. The 1947 prizes marked the Nobel Committee’s recognition both of pioneering work in the international peace movement and of humanitarian work carried out without regard for race or nationality.

The Goodness of God Is Demonstrated in Brotherly Love

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American Friends Service Committee (The Quakers)

The second organization to receive the divided Peace Prize for 1947 was The American Friends Service Committee. It was founded in 1917, when the United States was drawn into World War I. Like their British co-religionists, the American Quakers sought to demonstrate God’s love for man by doing good deeds. Having appealed to the Government to be allowed to undertake humanitarian work as an alternative to war service, they were given the opportunity to assist in the rebuilding of France.

The Quakers set up provisional houses, provided livestock and seed corn, and were very active in their efforts to help the sick and pregnant. After the war they organized impressive aid projects in Germany and the Soviet Union, where there was great suffering from hunger and need.

In the 1930s, American Quakers worked hard on behalf of Jewish refugees, and cared for victims on both sides in the Spanish civil war. During World War II they assisted the Japanese-Americans who were interned after the attack on Pearl Harbor. When peace came, they cared in particular for slave workers and prisoners of war in war-torn regions.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1948

No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1949

Lord (John) Boyd Orr of Brechin

The Nobel Peace Prize 1949 was awarded to Lord Boyd Orr.

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Lord Boyd Orr

Father of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

The Scottish physician and biologist John Boyd Orr emerged in the inter-war years as one of Britain’s leading experts on nutrition. He maintained that many Britons were malnourished because their incomes were too low. Boyd Orr participated in the efforts in the League of Nations to achieve an international policy on nutrition. During the Second World War, he proposed the idea of a “world food plan” to President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the USA. In 1945 he was elected Director-General of the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization), the first of the specialized organizations established under the United Nations. Food and prosperity for all people on earth led to peace, Boyd Orr argued.

Boyd Orr was an ardent adherent of world organization as a means of securing peace, and argued for a world government ruling according to rules of international law. The nations of the world were now so dependent on each other that they had to give up some of their sovereignty. Boyd Orr was elevated to the peerage for his national and international commitment.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1950

Ralph Bunche

The Nobel Peace Prize 1950 was awarded to Ralph Bunche.

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Ralph Bunche

Peace Negotiator in the Middle East

Ralph Bunche was the first African American to be awarded the Peace Prize. He received it for having arranged a cease-fire between Israelis and Arabs during the war which followed the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.

Ralph Bunche was a social science graduate and before World War II studied colonial policy in West Africa. He joined the staff of the Swedish social scientist Gunnar Myrdal, who was studying racial segregation in the USA. In World War II, Bunche became the first Afro-American to hold a top job in the State Department.

In 1946, Ralph Bunche went into UN service, and in the following year Secretary-General Trygve Lie sent him to the Middle East to help to devise a plan for dividing Palestine between Arabs and Jews. The Arabs rejected the UN resolution concerning a Jewish state, and went to war on Israel. When the chief UN negotiator Folke Bernadotte was murdered by Jewish extremists in the autumn of 1948, Ralph Bunche had to replace him. In the following year he succeeded in bringing about a cease-fire, after tough negotiations.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1951

Léon Jouhaux

The Nobel Peace Prize 1951 was awarded to Léon Jouhaux.

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Léon Jouhaux

Social Justice Leads to Peace

The winner of the Peace Prize for 1951, Léon Jouhaux, grew up in a radical environment in a Paris suburb. His father, who worked in a match factory, suffered injuries from phosphorus quite early in life, becoming unfit for employment and unable to support the family. That experience made Léon an ardent trade unionist and founder and leader of the national French labor organization, the C.G.T. (Confédération Générale du Travail).

In the inter-war years, Jouhaux took part in the disarmament negotiations at the League of Nations, and figured prominently in the planning of social reform in France. In 1945, when he returned home after being a German PoW, Jouhaux lost the struggle with the Communists for control of the CGT, and in 1947 he took part in the foundation of a new anti-Communist trades union organization.

The 1951 Peace Prize was viewed by contemporary commentators as a friendly gesture from the Nobel Committee’s Social Democrat majority, but the Committee placed its emphasis on Jouhaux’s work for social equality and Franco-German reconciliation.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1952

Albert Schweitzer
schweitzer
Albert Schweitzer

The Nobel Peace Prize 1952 was awarded to Albert Schweitzer.

Albert Schweitzer received his Nobel Prize one year later, in 1953. During the selection process in 1952, the Norwegian Nobel Committee decided that none of the year’s nominations met the criteria as outlined in the will of Alfred Nobel. According to the Nobel Foundation’s statutes, the Nobel Prize can in such a case be reserved until the following year, and this statute was then applied. Albert Schweitzer therefore received his Nobel Prize for 1952 one year later, in 1953.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1953

George Catlett Marshall

The Nobel Peace Prize 1953 was awarded to George C. Marshall.

marshall postcard
George Catlett Marshall

The Marshall Plan for Peace

George Marshall won the Peace Prize for a plan aimed at the economic recovery of Western Europe after World War II.
Marshall began his military career in the American forces of occupation in the Philippines in 1902. During World War I he trained American troops in Europe. In the inter-war years he served for a number of years in China, until President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed him Chief of Staff in 1939.

When the United States entered the war against Japan and Germany in 1941, Marshall was given the main responsibility for planning the US conduct of the war. He was the brains behind the successful invasion of Normandy in 1944, and he gave the orders to use atomic bombs on Japan after President Harry Truman had given the go-ahead.

Truman appointed Marshall Secretary of State in 1947, and between them they planned the economic support for Europe that was to secure stability and prevent the spread of Communism. After fifty years of public service, Marshall wound up his career as Secretary of Defense in 1951.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1954

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
refugees
UNHCR

The Nobel Peace Prize 1954 was awarded to Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees received the Nobel Prize one year later, in 1955. During the selection process in 1954, the Norwegian Nobel Committee decided that none of the year’s nominations met the criteria as outlined in the will of Alfred Nobel. According to the Nobel Foundation’s statutes, the Nobel Prize can in such a case be reserved until the following year, and this statute was then applied. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees therefore received the Nobel Prize for 1954 one year later, in 1955.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1955

No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1956

No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1957

Lester Bowles Pearson

The Nobel Peace Prize 1957 was awarded to Lester Bowles Pearson.

pearson postcard
Lester Bowles Pearson

Father of the United Nations Forces

In 1956, Great Britain, France and Israel launched an attack on Egypt aimed at removing President Nasser. The United States had not been informed, and the Soviet Union threatened to use atomic weapons against the assailants. The “Suez Crisis” found its solution when the Canadian Secretary of State for External Affairs Lester Pearson, who had served as President of the United Nations General Assembly in 1952, won support for sending a United Nations Emergency Force to the region to separate the warring parties. This gained him the Peace Prize for 1957.

Lester Pearson was a historian. In the inter-war years he was employed in Canada’s Department of External Affairs. He was sent to Europe, and witnessed both the breakdown of the League of Nations and the outbreak of World War II. During the war he was stationed in Washington, where he worked on preparations for the founding of the United Nations. Many wanted him to be the first Secretary-General, but the Soviet Union was opposed. Instead, Pearson headed the UN committee that recommended the division of Palestine into a Jewish part and an Arab part.

In 1948, Lester Pearson became Canada’s Secretary of State for External Affairs, and he ended his career as Prime Minister in the 1960s.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1958

Georges Pire

he Nobel Peace Prize 1958 was awarded to Georges Pire.

pire postcard
Georges Pire

Friend of Peace and European

The Belgian Dominican priest Georges Pire was quick to become involved in humanitarian work. In the late 1930s, he founded an aid organization for poor families, and during World War II he took part as an army chaplain in the anti-German resistance movement.

The Nobel Committee focused especially on Pire’s aid to European refugees. Having in 1949 learned of the miserable conditions in Austrian refugee camps, he decided to come to their rescue. Pire organized a network of sponsors who supplied food, clothes and medicine. Gifts enabled him to build a number of homes for the aged. In the course of the 1950s, he set up several European Villages of small houses for refugees, and in 1957 he founded an organization which undertook development projects in other parts of the world.

One of Pire’s principal motives was to serve the cause of the European community through humanitarian work; but the Nobel Committee attached more importance to his efforts to “build a bridge across the waves from colonialism, anti-colonialism, and racial conflict”.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1959

Philip J. Noel-Baker

The Nobel Peace Prize 1959 was awarded to Philip Noel-Baker.

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Philip J. Noel-Baker

With Disarmament as his Leitmotif

In 1907, Philip Noel-Baker took part in the international peace conference in the Hague. There the great powers refused to enter into agreements concerning disarmament and arbitration. World War I broke out a few years later, and Noel-Baker was convinced that the private armaments industry bore much of the responsibility for the outbreak of war and the bloodbath that followed. The struggle for disarmament became a leitmotif for him for the rest of his life, and led to his being awarded the Peace Prize in 1959.

Noel-Baker read history and law at Cambridge. He participated in World War I as a volunteer medical orderly. After the war he worked at the League of Nations, employment which brought him into close cooperation with such Peace Prize Laureates as Fridtjof Nansen, Normann Angell and Lord Cecil.

During World War II he was a Minister in Winston Churchill’s coalition Government, and after the war he became Foreign Minister in Clement Attlee’s Labour Government. Noel-Baker helped to draw up the United Nations Charter, and for the rest of his life he engaged in intense efforts to prevent nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1960

Albert John Lutuli
lutuli
Albert John Lutuli

The Nobel Peace Prize 1960 was awarded to Albert Lutuli.

Albert Lutuli received his Nobel Prize one year later, in 1961. During the selection process in 1960, the Norwegian Nobel Committee decided that none of the year’s nominations met the criteria as outlined in the will of Alfred Nobel. According to the Nobel Foundation’s statutes, the Nobel Prize can in such a case be reserved until the following year, and this statute was then applied. Albert Lutuli therefore received his Nobel Prize for 1960 one year later, in 1961.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1961

Dag Hjalmar Agne Carl Hammarskjöld

The Nobel Peace Prize 1961 was awarded to Dag Hammarskjöld.

hammarskjold postcard
Dag Hjalmar Agne CarlHammarskjöld

Diplomat and Peace Arbitrator

Dag Hammarskjöld, second Secretary-General of the United Nations, was born into Sweden’s political elite. Both his training and his civil service career were in keeping with family traditions. He distinguished himself in languages, literature, philosophy and law before getting a PhD in economics in 1933. He obtained a number of senior appointments in the Ministries of Finance and Foreign Affairs, and in the early postwar years was one of Sweden’s leading diplomats.

The Nobel Committee lauded Hammarskjöld for having built up an efficient and independent UN Secretariat, and for having taken an independent line towards the great powers. He was also praised for having organized a peacekeeping force in the Middle East after the Suez crisis, and for his commitment to peace during the civil war in the Congo.

Hammarskjöld died, under suspicious circumstances, in an airplane crash in Northern Rhodesia in September 1961. He is the only Nobel Peace Prize Laureate to have been awarded the distinction posthumously.

 

The Nobel Peace Prize 1962

Linus Carl Pauling
pauling
Linus Carl Pauling

The Nobel Peace Prize 1962 was awarded to Linus Pauling.

Linus Pauling received his Nobel Prize one year later, in 1963. During the selection process in 1962, the Norwegian Nobel Committee decided that none of the year’s nominations met the criteria as outlined in the will of Alfred Nobel. According to the Nobel Foundation’s statutes, the Nobel Prize can in such a case be reserved until the following year, and this statute was then applied. Linus Pauling therefore received his Nobel Prize for 1962 one year later, in 1963.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1963

Comité international de la Croix Rouge (International Committee of the Red Cross) and Ligue des Sociétés de la Croix-Rouge (League of Red Cross Societies)

The Nobel Peace Prize 1963 was awarded jointly to Comité international de la Croix Rouge (International Committee of the Red Cross) and Ligue des Sociétés de la Croix-Rouge (League of Red Cross Societies)

Peace Prize Laureate for the Third Time

red cross postcard
International Committee of the Red Cross

The International Committee of the Red Cross was declared the winner of the Peace Prize both in 1917 and in 1944. The main reason was its efforts during the two World Wars.

In 1963, it was 100 years since the Peace Prize Laureate in 1901, Henri Dunant, founded the Red Cross. On the occasion of the centenary, the Norwegian Nobel Committee wished to call attention to the importance of the organization in the global community. It also wished to reward the organization’s work since World War II, but this time the Swiss Red Cross Committee shared the honor with the League of Red Cross Societies. Together, the two organizations made up what is now known as the International Red Cross.

The Nobel Committee paid tribute to the International Committee of the Red Cross in particular for its work on the revised Geneva Convention of 1949 and its work during the conflicts in Hungary, Algeria, the Congo and Tibet.

The International Cooperative Body for the National Societies

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League of Red Cross Societies

The League of Red Cross Societies was founded in 1919, the year after the end of World War I. The initiative came from Henry P. Davison, President of the American Red Cross. Experience from the war showed that the national Red Cross Societies ought to cooperate more closely also in peacetime. The Red Cross Societies of the USA, Great Britain, France, Italy and Japan were the first members of the League, known today as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

The League’s first task was to undertake aid work in countries where the populations had suffered most severely during the war. Since then, the organization has carried out extensive aid work in peacetime when flooding, droughts and other natural disasters have led to hunger, need and death.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1964

Martin Luther King Jr.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1964 was awarded to Martin Luther King Jr.

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Martin Luther King Jr.

For Civil Rights and Social Justice

Martin Luther King dreamt that all inhabitants of the United States would be judged by their personal qualities and not by the color of their skin. In April 1968 he was murdered by a white racist. Four years earlier, he had received the Peace Prize for his nonviolent campaign against racism.

King adhered to Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence. In 1955 he began his struggle to persuade the US Government to declare the policy of racial discrimination in the southern states unlawful. The racists responded with violence to the black people’s nonviolent initiatives.

In 1963, 250,000 demonstrators marched to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, where King gave his famous “I have a dream” speech. The following year, President Johnson got a law passed prohibiting all racial discrimination.

But King had powerful opponents. The head of the FBI, John Edgar Hoover, had him placed under surveillance as a communist, and when King opposed the administration’s policy in Vietnam, he fell into disfavour with the President. It has still not been ascertained whether King’s murderer acted on his own or was part of a conspiracy.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1965

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)

The Nobel Peace Prize 1965 was awarded to United Nations Children’s Fund.

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Unicef

The United Nations Children’s Fund – UNICEF

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) was founded by the new world organization, the United Nations, in 1946. To begin with, UNICEF concentrated on supplying food, clothes and medicine to children and mothers in war-torn Europe, China and Palestine. From the early 1950s on, the organization set itself longer-term objectives aimed at developing countries. It launched measures aimed at mothers and infants, gave advice on nutrition, distributed vitamin-rich food, and fought disease. As part of these efforts, UNICEF built thousands of health stations in the third world and launched projects to ensure school attendance for children and adolescents. The organization’s work was strengthened when the UN adopted a Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959.

According to the Nobel Committee, UNICEF’s activities marked a breakthrough for the idea of solidarity between nations, which helped to reduce the difference between rich and poor states. That also reduced the danger of war.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1966

No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1967

No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1968

René Cassin

The Nobel Peace Prize 1968 was awarded to René Cassin.

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René Cassin

Father of the Declaration of Human Rights

As a soldier in World War I, the young lawyer René Cassin was severely wounded. The experience marked him for life. In the inter-war years, he represented France at the League of Nations, and worked for disarmament. In the 1920s he sought to bring about reconciliation between former enemies. In Cassin’s opinion, military veterans were especially well equipped to bring about reconciliation and peace, and he supported the conferences of war veterans. But Hitler’s seizure of power in Germany put an end to such efforts.

After World War II, the UN became René Cassin’s arena. He was the brains and the driving force behind the UN commission that drew up the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. Article 1 reads as follows: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

The Nobel Peace Prize 1969

International Labour Organization (I.L.O.)

The Nobel Peace Prize 1969 was awarded to International Labour Organization.

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International Labour Organization

“If You Want Peace, Secure Justice”

Fifty years after the Versailles peace conference resolved to establish it, the International Labor Organization (ILO) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel Committee was thereby following up a tradition going back to 1951, when the Frenchman Léon Jouhaux received the Prize.

The main object of the ILO’s activity is to establish principles whereby the working conditions and social rights of employees can be improved. It is basic to the organization’s outlook that such reforms strengthen the cause of peace because they reduce social injustice. Up to 1969 the organization had adopted 128 conventions drawn up by representatives of national authorities, employers and employees from its member countries.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1970

Norman E. Borlaug

The Nobel Peace Prize 1970 was awarded to Norman Borlaug.

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Norman E. Borlaug

Father of the Green Revolution

The expression “the green revolution” is permanently linked to Norman Borlaug’s name. He obtained a PhD in plant protection at the age of 27, and worked in Mexico in the 1940s and 1950s to make the country self-sufficient in grain. Borlaug recommended improved methods of cultivation, and developed a robust strain of wheat – dwarf wheat – that was adapted to Mexican conditions. By 1956 the country had become self-sufficient in wheat.

Success in Mexico made Borlaug a much sought-after adviser to countries whose food production was not keeping pace with their population growth. In the mid-1960s, he introduced dwarf wheat into India and Pakistan, and production increased enormously. The expression “the green revolution” made Borlaug’s name known beyond scientific circles, but he always emphasized that he himself was only part of a team.

Borlaug is a warm adherent of birth control. The object is to strike a balance between population growth and food production.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1971

Willy Brandt

The Nobel Peace Prize 1971 was awarded to Willy Brandt.

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Willy Brandt

European Bridge-Builder

Willy Brandt grew up in reduced circumstances in the Hansa town of Lübeck, and in his youth became active on the left side in German politics. He engaged in illegal work against the Nazis, and had to go into exile in Norway in 1933. There he joined the Labor Party, and supported the campaign for a Peace Prize for Ossietzky. When Hitler invaded Norway in 1940, he fled to Sweden where as a journalist he campaigned for a free Norway and a democratic Germany.

After the war, Brandt engaged in the rebuilding of West Germany’s Social Democratic Party (the SPD). He became Mayor of West Berlin, party chairman, and Chancellor.

As federal Chancellor, Brandt saw to it that West Germany signed the nuclear weapons Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). He also concluded a nonviolence agreement with the Soviet Union and an agreement with Poland which entailed that West Germany accepted the new national boundaries in Eastern Europe that had become effective in 1945. These treaties laid the foundations for the Four Power Agreement on Berlin which made it easier for families from either side of the divided city to visit each other.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1972

No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money for 1972 was allocated to the Main Fund.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1973

Henry A. Kissinger and Le Duc Tho

The Nobel Peace Prize 1973 was awarded jointly to Henry A. Kissinger and Le Duc Tho

Bombs and Cease-Fire in Vietnam

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Henry A. Kissinger

Christmas 1972 saw heavy bombing raids carried out over the North Vietnamese capital Hanoi by American B-52 bombers. All over the world, thousands of people took to the streets in protest. The man who ordered the bombing was at the same time spearheading cease-fire negotiations. The armistice took effect in January 1973, and the same autumn Henry Kissinger was awarded the Peace Prize together with his counterpart Le Duc Tho. The latter refused to accept the Prize, and for the first time in the history of the Peace Prize two members left the Nobel Committee in protest.

Henry Kissinger has a German Jewish background. The family moved to the USA after Hitler came to power. Kissinger studied history and political science and was appointed to a chair at Harvard. During the war in Vietnam he prepared the peace negotiations with North Vietnam in Paris for President Lyndon B. Johnson, a Democrat, but when the Republican Richard Nixon won the election in 1968, Kissinger changed sides and became Nixon’s closest foreign policy adviser. Kissinger went in for negotiations while the USA at the same time was putting North Vietnam under severe military pressure.

Refused the Peace Prize

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Le Duc Tho had had long experience of fighting against great powers when he negotiated with Henry Kissinger for an armistice in Vietnam between 1969 and 1973. As a young man he became a Communist, and the French colonial authorities imprisoned him for many years. He gained a place in the Communist Party’s leadership during Japan’s occupation of Vietnam in the Second World War. Ho Chi Minh declared Vietnam independent after the defeat of Japan in 1945, but the French returned, and Le Duc Tho became one of the military leaders of the resistance against the French.

After the defeat of the French, Vietnam was divided. The USA supported a government in South Vietnam which the Communists in the north regarded as an American puppet government. When the United States decided to negotiate after 1968, Le Duc Tho was appointed North Vietnam’s chief negotiator, confronting Henry Kissinger.

When Hanoi was bombed at Christmastime on Kissinger’s orders, Le Duc Tho agreed to an armistice. But when he received the Peace Prize together with Kissinger in the autumn of 1973, he refused to accept it, on the grounds that his opposite number had violated the truce.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1974

Seán MacBride and Eisaku Sato

The Nobel Peace Prize 1974 was awarded jointly to Seán MacBride and Eisaku Sato

From the IRA to Amnesty International

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Seán MacBride

Seán MacBride received the Peace Prize for his efforts on behalf of human rights, among other things as one of the founders of Amnesty International. In 1974 he was also Chairman of the International Peace Bureau and Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations, and had recently been elected UN Commissioner for Namibia.

MacBride had nevertheless had a violent past. His father was killed in the Irish struggle for liberation from Great Britain, and he was only 13 when he joined the IRA. He took part in the concluding battles with the British before the Irish Republic was founded in 1921, and in the civil war that followed. MacBride backed Eamon de Valera in the latter’s refusal to accept Northern Ireland’s continuing union with England. In the 1930s, MacBride broke with the IRA and qualified in law. He defended IRA prisoners in Irish prisons who had been condemned to death.

After World War II he was for a few years Minister for External Affairs for Ireland. He played a leading part in the establishment of the Council of Europe, and in the preparation of the European Convention on Human Rights of 1950.

Symbol of Japan’s Will for Peace

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Eisaku Sato

The reasons the Nobel Committee gave for awarding the Peace Prize to Eisaku Sato were that as Japanese Prime Minister he represented the will for peace of the Japanese people, and that he had signed the nuclear arms Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1970. In the Committee’s opinion, the award to Sato would encourage all those who were working to halt the spread of nuclear arms.

The Peace Prize to Sato was heatedly discussed, especially in Japan. He was a controversial politician. The Japanese left accused him of being an obedient servant of American interests.

Sato was born into an old samurai family. He was trained as a lawyer, and before and after World War II he was employed in the Japanese railway service. After the war he pursued a political career despite charges of corruption. In 1964 he was in charge of the Olympic Games in Tokyo, and he became Prime Minister the same year. Sato supported the US war in Vietnam, while at the same time urging the United States to return the island of Okinawa to Japan. This happened in 1972, but the United States retained control of the military bases.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1975

Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov

The Nobel Peace Prize 1975 was awarded to Andrei Sakharov.

For Human Rights in the Soviet Union

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Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov

The father of the Soviet hydrogen bomb, Andrei Sakharov, was awarded the Peace Prize in 1975 for his opposition to the abuse of power and his work for human rights. The leaders of the Soviet Union reacted with fury, and refused Sakharov permission to travel to Oslo to receive the Prize. His wife, Jelena Bonner, received it on his behalf. Sakharov was subsequently deprived of all his Soviet honorary titles, and the couple was for several years kept under strict surveillance in the town of Gorkij. Only when Gorbachev came to power in 1985 were they allowed to return to Moscow.

Sakharov revealed his talent for theoretical physics at an early age, and got a doctorate in 1945. From 1948 on, under the supervision of the Nobel Laureate Igor Tamm, he worked on the development of a Soviet hydrogen bomb. Sakharov was patriotic, and believed it was important to break the American monopoly on nuclear weapons. But from the late 1950s on, he issued warnings against the consequences of the arms race, and in the 1960s and 1970s he voiced sharp criticism of the system of Soviet society, which in his opinion departed from fundamental human rights.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1976

Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan

The Nobel Peace Prize 1976 was awarded jointly to Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan

Peace Must Be Built from Below

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Betty Williams

In 1976, three innocent children were killed in a shooting incident in Belfast. The housewife and secretary Betty Williams witnessed the tragedy. She decided to launch an appeal against the meaningless use of violence in the conflict between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland. Betty was joined by the dead children’s aunt, Mairead Corrigan, and together they founded the peace organization the Community of Peace People.

Betty Williams had a Protestant father and Catholic mother, a family background from which she derived religious tolerance and a breadth of vision that motivated her to work for peace. Early in the 1970s she joined an anti-violence campaign headed by a Protestant priest, before she threw herself with full force into grass-root activities for the Peace People. By setting up local peace groups comprising former opponents who undertook confidence-building measures, they hoped to set a peace process in motion from below.

The Northern Irish peace movement disintegrated in the course of 1978. This was due both to internal disagreements and to the spreading of malicious rumors by Catholic and Protestant extremists.

Catholic and Campaigner for Peace

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Mairead Corrigan

In August 1976, the Northern Irish secretary Mairead Corrigan’s sister lost three children in a shooting incident in Belfast. She was promptly contacted by a witness, Betty Williams, and they agreed to found a peace organization to bring an end to the bitter conflict between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland.

Mairead grew up in a poor family in Belfast. In addition to her office job, she devoted a great deal of time in her youth to charity work in the Catholic organization Legion of Mary. That gave her a good basis on which to develop the nonviolent strategy of the Community of Peace People, which brought together thousands of people in protest marches and confidence-building measures among the grass roots in 1976 and 1977.

Mairead Corrigan did not give up hope even when the Peace People lost nearly all their support in the late 1970s. She kept up her local peace work with admirable strength.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1977

Amnesty International

The Nobel Peace Prize 1977 was awarded to Amnesty International.

A Light in the Darkness

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Amnesty International

Amnesty International is a worldwide human rights organization run by its members. It is independent of all governments and all financial players. It is also independent of political convictions and religious faiths.

Amnesty International uncovers the facts about violations and breaches of human rights. The issues may concern individuals or conditions within a particular state, but the organization also pursues various themes, such as the death penalty. Results are published in special reports. Amnesty’s members organize targeted action and campaigns to bring an end to violations.

Amnesty International was founded in 1961 by the British lawyer Peter Benenson. He got the idea for the organization’s logo – the lit candle surrounded by barbed wire – from a Chinese proverb,”It is better to light a light than to curse the darkness”.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1978

Mohamed Anwar al-Sadat and Menachem Begin

The Nobel Peace Prize 1978 was awarded jointly to Mohamed Anwar al-Sadat and Menachem Begin

For a Peace Treaty with Israel

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Mohamed Anwar al-Sadat

In October 1981, President Sadat of Egypt was murdered by persons who were opposed to his policy of reconciliation with Israel and his close links with the United States. Sadat shared the Peace Prize with Israel’s Prime Minister Begin after having taken the initiative in negotiating a peace treaty between the two countries. The so-called Camp David Accords came about thanks to the mediation efforts of US President Jimmy Carter.

Anwar el-Sadat had military training. In World War II he fought against the British dominance of Egypt and was imprisoned for several years. After the war he joined the officers who under Nasser’s leadership deposed the pro-English King Farouk in 1952.

Nasser died a few years after Egypt’s defeat by Israel in 1967, and Sadat took over as President. He broke Egypt’s links with the Soviet Union, and sought US support in recovering territories lost to Israel. In the autumn of 1977 Sadat undertook a bold journey to Jerusalem, where he offered Begin a peace treaty in return for recovery of the occupied Sinai peninsula.

From Terror to a Peace Treaty with Egypt

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Menachem Begin

When Israel’s Prime Minister Begin came to Oslo to receive the Peace Prize, there were such violent demonstrations against him that the award ceremony had to be moved to Akershus fortress. Begin shared the Peace Prize with Egypt’s President Anwar el-Sadat for the peace treaty concluded between Israel and Egypt. The so-called Camp David Accords were negotiated under pressure from US President Jimmy Carter.

Menachem Begin was born in Poland, where he joined an extremist Zionist movement that wanted to establish a Jewish state in Palestine by force. During the Second World War Begin was in custody in the Soviet Union before he, with incredible luck, managed to get to Jerusalem. There he became the leader of the Irgun Zwai Leumi organization which resorted to terror both against the British authorities and against Palestine’s Arab inhabitants. Irgun also fought the Israeli army until Begin accepted David Ben Gurion’s supreme leadership. In 1977 Begin became Prime Minister when the conservative Likud alliance won the election.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1979

Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech, 10 December 1979

Mother Teresa, Saint in the Gutter and Saint in Heaven
Mother Teresa, Saint in the Gutter and Saint in Heaven

Download Mother Teresa’s Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech, 4 pages, Video, 19 min.

At the age of twelve, the Catholic Albanian girl Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu heard a call. God demanded that she devote her life to Him. She entered a nunnery, received an education, and was sent to Calcutta in India to be a teacher. Her new name was Teresa. In India she received a second call from God: to help the poor while living among them. She founded a new sisterhood, Missionaries of Charity. Mother Teresa and her helpers built homes for orphans, nursing homes for lepers and hospices for the terminally ill in Calcutta. Mother Teresa’s organization also engaged in aid work in other parts of the world.

The modest nun became known all over the world, and money poured in. But she was also criticized. It was alleged that dying people in the hospices were refused pain relief, whereas Mother Teresa herself accepted hospital treatment. She also held a conservative view on abortion. She was regarded as a spokesperson for the Vatican. In 2003, the Pope took the first step towards her canonization. In 2016, Mother Teresa was declared a saint by Pope Francis.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1980

Adolfo Pérez Esquivel

The Nobel Peace Prize 1980 was awarded to Adolfo Pérez Esquivel.

Architect, Artist and Peace Activist

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Adolfo Pérez Esquivel

Following the military coup in 1976, Argentina was a violent dictatorship for five years. It was during that period that the Roman Catholic Adolfo Pérez Esquivel became known as a human rights activist and opponent of all violence. His commitment could be traced right back to the 1960s, when he had worked for social development by means of nonviolent liberation.

In the 1970s, Esquivel headed the Latin American human rights organization SERPAJ. Abandoning a university career, he traveled around Latin America building networks. In 1977 he was arrested, imprisoned and tortured by the Argentina’s military rulers. He was only released after 14 months, when the pressure from his friends became too great.

In 1980 the Norwegian Nobel Committee emphasized that Esquivel through his courageous nonviolent struggle had lit a light in the darkness of Argentina’s violence. His work was an inspiration to oppressed people all over the world.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1981

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

Twice Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize

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Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

When the Nobel Committee rewarded the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) with the Nobel Prize a second time in 1981, the world’s refugee problem was still greater than ever before. Having been chiefly a European concern early in the 1950s, the issue had now become important to the third world, particularly Africa. That was where about half of the ten million refugees were for whom the UNHCR had a responsibility at the time.

Once again, the Nobel Committee adhered to the tradition going back to Fridtjof Nansen by which aid to refugees was defined as fundamental work for peace. The 1981 Prize recognized the UNHCR’s great efforts to repatriate refugees in Asia, Africa and Latin America in the 1970s. At the same time, it was an expression of support for the United Nations and for the principles laid down in the international Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (Refugee Convention). Its provisions gained special currency in the early 1980s owing to the harsh fate suffered by thousands of Vietnamese refugees in the South China Sea.

The UNHCR resolved to place the prize money in a fund for the benefit of functionally disabled refugees.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1982

Alva Myrdal and Alfonso García Robles

The Nobel Peace Prize 1982 was awarded jointly to Alva Myrdal and Alfonso García Robles

Disarmament and Nuclear Weapons-Free Zones

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Alva Myrdal

Alva Myrdal already had an extensive career behind her when she was elected to the Swedish “riksdag” (legislative assembly) in 1962. She had studied philology and pedagogy, and in the inter-war years devoted herself to improving the conditions of the working class through the Social Democrat Party. She also made a name for herself as a campaigner for women’s rights.

After World War II, Alva Myrdal held prominent posts in the United Nations system, hand-picked by the Secretary-General. She was among other things head of UNESCO’s social science section. From 1955 she was Swedish Ambassador to India.

It was, however, as the government minister in charge of disarmament issues that Alva Myrdal really stood out as an innovator. As the representative of a non-aligned Sweden, she worked actively to persuade the superpowers to disarm. The nuclear race was a major concern, and she fought for nuclear weapons-free zones in Europe. Each individual country ought to take the initiative and ban nuclear arms on its territory.

Mr. Disarmament

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Alfonso García Robles

Alfonso García qualified as a lawyer and held a diploma from the Academy of International Law in the Hague. He embarked on a long career as a diplomat, including various posts at the UN headquarters in New York.

After the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, Garcia Robles played a key part in the laborious efforts to make Latin America a nuclear-free zone, which led to an agreement signed by 14 states in Mexico City in 1967.

When the agreement had been concluded, García Robles continued his work for peace. He participated in the formulation of the non-proliferation agreement for nuclear arms of 1968, and figured prominently in the UN’s special sessions on disarmament. He was also Mexico’s Foreign Minister for a little over a year.

But it was as a diplomat that García Robles achieved his greatest triumphs. The last time he visited the UN Headquarters, he was lauded as “Mr. Disarmament”.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1983

Lech Walesa

The Nobel Peace Prize 1983 was awarded to Lech Walesa.

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Lech Walesa
For Freedom to Organize behind the Iron Curtain

When Lech Walesa received the Peace Prize for his campaign for freedom of organization in Poland, he had just been released from internment. The Communist party had tried in vain to break him, the symbol of the revolt against the party’s monopoly on power.

Walesa was employed as a marine electrician at the Lenin shipyard in Gdansk. He was fired for having participated in demands for independent labor unions. These were wanted by the workers after several of them had been killed by police and soldiers while demonstrating for better living conditions. During a strike in 1980, Walesa managed to enter the Lenin yard, and led the negotiations with the authorities. These ended in a victory for the Solidarity union because workers, intellectuals and the Catholic church had formed a united front.

In 1981 the Polish authorities banned Solidarity, alleging that this was the only way of preventing a Soviet invasion. After a couple of years they abandoned that policy, and Poland was gradually liberalized. In 1989 Solidarity won free elections, and in the following year Walesa was elected President of Poland.

Desmond Tutu’s Nobel Prize Lecture 1984

Desmond Mpilo Tutu

Download Desmond Tutu – Nobel Lecture, 6 pages, Video, 15 min

Africa’s Peace Bishop

Desmond Tutu
Desmond Tutu

Desmond Tutu held his Acceptance Speech on 10 December 1984, in the Oslo City Hall, Norway. Before the speech, Desmond Tutu and his relatives and colleagues delivered a traditional song.

“I have spoken extensively about South Africa, first because it is the land I know best, but because it is also a microcosm of the world and an example of what is to be found in other lands in differing degree – when there is injustice, invariably peace becomes a casualty. In El Salvador, in Nicaragua, and elsewhere in Latin America, there have been repressive regimes which have aroused opposition in those countries. Fellow citizens are pitted against one another, sometimes attracting the unhelpful attention and interest of outside powers, who want to extend their spheres of influence. We see this in the Middle East, in Korea, in the Philippines, in Kampuchea, in Vietnam, in Ulster, in Afghanistan, in Mozambique, in Angola, in Zimbabwe, behind the Iron Curtain.”

The Nobel Peace Prize 1985

International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War

The Nobel Peace Prize 1985 was awarded to International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.

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International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War

IPPNW was only five years old when the organization received the Nobel Peace Prize. The heart specialists Bernhard Lown from the United States and Evgeny Chazov from the Soviet Union had become acquainted in the 1960s, and both were concerned about the medical aspects of a nuclear war. Despite belonging to opposing camps during the Cold War, they agreed to found an international organization for physicians that would seek to counteract the nuclear arms race.

And the physicians of the world proved enthusiastic. In 1985 the organization had 135,000 members in 40 countries, including 28,000 in the USA and 60,000 in the Soviet Union.

IPPNW held annual congresses to tell the world about the consequences of nuclear war. Extensive nuclear explosions could prevent sunlight from reaching the earth. The resulting drop in temperature would cause a “nuclear winter”. The organization recommended a nuclear test ban and demanded that the great powers should refrain from first use in conflict situations.

Elie Wiesel’s Nobel Acceptance Speech, 10 December 1986

Download Elie Wiesel – Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech, 2 pages

Download Elie Wiesel – Nobel Lecture, 6 pages

Elie Wiesel
Elie Wiesel

Eye-Witness and Messenger

The Jewish author, philosopher and humanist Elie Wiesel made it his life’s work to bear witness to the genocide committed by the Nazis during World War II. He was the world’s leading spokesman on the Holocaust.

After Hitler’s forces had moved into Hungary in 1944, the Wiesel family was deported to the Auschwitz extermination camp in Poland. Elie Wiesel’s mother and younger sister perished in the gas chamber there. In 1945 Elie and his father were sent on to Buchenwald, where his father died of starvation and dysentery. Seventeen-year-old Elie was still alive when American soldiers opened the camp.

For the world to remember and learn from the Holocaust was not Elie Wiesel’s only goal. He thought it equally important to fight indifference and the attitude that “it’s no concern of mine”. Elie Wiesel saw the struggle against indifference as a struggle for peace. In his words, “The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference”.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1987

Oscar Arias Sánchez

The Nobel Peace Prize 1987 was awarded to Oscar Arias Sánchez “for his work for peace in Central America, efforts which led to the accord signed in Guatemala on August 7 this year”.

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Oscar Arias Sánchez

Peace-Broker in Central America

Costa Rica’s President Oscar Arias Sánchez was awarded the Peace Prize in 1987 for a plan designed to put an end to the cruel civil wars that were devastating Central America. In August 1987, the peace plan was approved by Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. It aimed at free elections, safeguards for human rights, and an end to foreign interference in the countries’ internal affairs.

Oscar Arias studied law and economics in Costa Rica, the USA, and Great Britain, and got a doctorate in economics. He joined the social democratic party, and became a member of the government in the 1970s. When he became President in 1986, a civil war was raging in neighboring Nicaragua. Oscar Arias refused the USA permission to use Costa Rican territory in support of the Contras. He rebuked the Sandinistas for their lack of democracy and resisted US attempts to alter the contents of the peace plan that was signed in 1987.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1988

United Nations Peacekeeping Forces

The Nobel Peace Prize 1988 was awarded to United Nations Peacekeeping Forces.

The United Nations Peacekeeping Forces

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United Nations Peacekeeping Forces

Towards the end of the Cold War, the Nobel Committee wished to indicate that the United Nations ought to have greater influence on international politics. It did so by awarding the Peace Prize to military personnel who had served as observers and UN soldiers. From 1948 to 1988, over 500,000 persons from 53 states took part in the UN’s peacekeeping operations. Of them, 733 lost their lives.

Up to 1988, the world organization had sent peacekeeping forces to the Middle East, Kashmir, Cyprus, the Congo, and West New Guinea. The units were under the command of the UN Secretary-General, and were made available voluntarily by member countries. With the exception of the forces that were sent to the Congo, the troops were equipped with light arms for self-defense. Their main assignments were to report on the situation in crisis areas, set up buffer zones, keep up contacts between conflicting parties, monitor armistice agreements, maintain calm and good order, and give humanitarian aid.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1989

The 14th Dalai Lama (Tenzin Gyatso)

Dalai Lama’s Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech, The 14th Dalai Lama (Tenzin Gyatso) (10 December 1989)

Download The 14th Dalai Lama – Acceptance Speech, 2 pages , (Video)

The 14th Dalai Lama, born Lhamo Thondup, 6 July 1935
The 14th Dalai Lama, born Lhamo Thondup, 6 July 1935

Dalai Lamas Speech on Receiving the Congressional Gold Medal, (27 September 2006)
Tenzin Gyatso (born 6 July 1935) is the fourteenth and current Dalai Lama. He is a practising member of the Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism and is influential as a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, as the world’s most famous Buddhist monk, and is leader of the exiled Tibetan government in India.

On 10 December 1989 the Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the chairman of the Nobel committee said that the award was “in part a tribute to the memory of Mahatma Gandhi.” The committee recognized his efforts in “the struggle of the liberation of Tibet and the efforts for a peaceful resolution instead of using violence.” In his acceptance speech he criticised China for using force against student protesters during the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1990

Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev

The Nobel Peace Prize 1990 was awarded to Mikhail Gorbachev “for his leading role in the peace process which today characterizes important parts of the international community”.

He Brought the Cold War to a Peaceful End

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Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev

In 1989 the Berlin Wall fell, and the Cold War between East and West was brought to a halt. In 1990, the Nobel Committee gave President Gorbachev the main credit for this by awarding him the Peace Prize.

Gorbachev grew up under Stalin’s regime, and experienced German occupation in World War II. After the war, he studied law in Moscow and pursued a career in the Communist Party. Journeys abroad gradually made him critical of the inefficient Soviet system, which came under further strain when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979.
In 1985 Gorbachev was elected the new leader of the Soviet Union. He sought to reform communism, and introduced the concepts “glasnost” (openness) and “perestroika” (change).

Society was liberalized, and Gorbachev sought détente with the USA so as to be able to transfer funding from defense to civil society. He declared that he would not support Communist regimes in other countries if their peoples were opposed to them. He thus started a chain reaction which led to the fall of communism in Europe.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1991

Aung San Suu Kyi

The Nobel Peace Prize 1991 was awarded to Aung San Suu Kyi “for her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights”.

Burma’s Modern Symbol of Freedom

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Aung San Suu Kyi

The Burmese Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is the daughter of the legendary liberation movement leader Aung San. Following studies abroad, she returned home in 1988. From then on, she led the opposition to the military junta that had ruled Burma since 1962. She was one of the founders of the National League for Democracy (NLD), and was elected secretary general of the party. Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, she opposed all use of violence and called on the military leaders to hand over power to a civilian government. The aim was to establish a democratic society in which the country’s ethnic groups could cooperate in harmony.

In the election in 1990, the NLD won a clear victory, but the generals prevented the legislative assembly from convening. Instead they continued to arrest members of the opposition and refused to release Suu Kyi from house arrest.

The Peace Prize had a significant impact in mobilizing world opinion in favor of Aung San Suu Kyi’s cause. However, she remained under house arrest for almost 15 of the 21 years from her arrest in July 1989 until her release on 13 November 2010, whereupon she was able to resume her political career and put her mark on the rapid democratization of Myanmar.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1992

Rigoberta Menchú Tum

The Nobel Peace Prize 1992 was awarded to Rigoberta Menchú Tum “in recognition of her work for social justice and ethno-cultural reconciliation based on respect for the rights of indigenous peoples”.

Work for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

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Rigoberta Menchú Tum

In 1992 the western world celebrated that it was 500 years since Columbus reached America. In the same year, the Guatemalan Indian woman Rigoberta Menchú was awarded the Peace Prize for her work for the rights of indigenous peoples and reconciliation between ethnic groups. She had been nominated by Indian organizations, who wanted to draw attention to the fact that the European discovery of America had entailed the extermination and suppression of indigenous populations.

Rigoberta grew up in a country marked by extreme violence. Several members of her own family were killed by the army, which was hunting down opponents of the regime. She herself fled to Mexico in the early 1980s, where she came into contact with European groups that were working for human rights in Latin America. With time, Rigoberta began to favor a policy of reconciliation with the authorities, and Norway served as the intermediary in negotiations between the government and the guerrilla organizations. A peace agreement was signed in 1996. Rigoberta Menchú herself became a UN Ambassador for the world’s indigenous peoples.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1993

Nelson Mandela and Frederik Willem

The Nobel Peace Prize 1993 was awarded jointly to Nelson Mandela and Frederik Willem de Klerk “for their work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa”

Nelson Mandela’s Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech and Lecture (December 10, 1993)

Download Nelson Mandela’s Acceptance and Nobel Lecture, 5 pages

Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, (born 18 July 1918) is a former President of South Africa, the first to be elected in fully representative democratic elections. He spent 27 years in prison, much of it in a cell on Robben Island, on convictions for crimes that included sabotage committed while he spearheaded the struggle against apartheid.

 

Following his release from prison in 1990, his switch to a policy of reconciliation and negotiation helped lead the transition to multi-racial democracy in South Africa. Since the end of apartheid, he has been widely praised, even by former opponents.

Mandela has received more than one hundred awards over four decades, most notably the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. He is currently a celebrated elder statesman who continues to voice his opinion on topical issues. In South Africa he is often known as Madiba, an honorary title adopted by elders of Mandela’s clan. The title has come to be synonymous with Nelson Mandela.

From Apartheid to Majority Rule

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Frederik Willem de Klerk

In 1990 South Africa’s President Frederik Willem de Klerk decided to release Nelson Mandela, leader of the liberation movement, who had been in prison since 1963. Following the release, the two politicians worked together to bring an end to the policy of racial segregation. It was for his participation in this peace process that de Klerk was awarded the Peace Prize in 1993.

When de Klerk took office as President in 1989, no one expected him to play a key part in the termination of apartheid. Both as a lawyer, as a parliamentarian, and as a member of the government he had stood out as a firm upholder of white privilege. But when he realized that the apartheid system was leading to both economic and political bankruptcy, he put himself at the head of a radical change of course. He continued the negotiations with Mandela and the ANC liberation movement, which had begun in secret. They agreed to prepare for a presidential election and to draw up a new constitution with equal voting rights for every population group in the country.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1994

Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin

The Nobel Peace Prize 1994 was awarded jointly to Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin “for their efforts to create peace in the Middle East”

A Pistol and an Olive Branch

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Yasser Arafat

In 1974, Yasser Arafat addressed the UN General Assembly. He said he was holding an olive branch for peace in one hand and a freedom fighter’s pistol in the other. Twenty years later he and the Israeli leaders Peres and Rabin received the Peace Prize for having opted for the olive branch by signing the so-called Oslo Accords in Washington. The agreement was aimed at reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.

Arafat grew up in Cairo and Jerusalem. He took part in the war against the new state of Israel in 1948, when many Palestinians were expelled. As a qualified engineer, he took a job in Kuwait. From there, he organized the guerrilla group Fatah, which attacked Israel. Following Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, Arafat became the leader of the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization), an umbrella organization for Palestinian guerrilla groups. The groups resorted to terror to attract world attention, but it gradually became clear to Arafat that he would have to accept the state of Israel for the USA to be willing to mediate in the dispute. He approved the meeting of Palestinian negotiators with Israelis at secret negotiations in Oslo.

For Reconciliation with the Palestinians

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Shimon Peres

In the winter of 1993, secret negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis took place in the Norwegian capital Oslo. They resulted in the so-called Oslo Accords, signed in Washington the same year. The agreement aimed at reconciling the two peoples, with Israel gradually withdrawing from occupied territories and granting the Palestinians self-determination. Israel’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Shimon Peres was in charge of the negotiations on the Israeli side, and in the autumn of 1994 he shared the Peace Prize with his own Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Shimon Peres was born in Belorussia. To escape the persecution of Jews there, the family fled to Palestine in 1934. Peres studied agricultural science and joined the party of the Zionist leader David Ben Gurion. When Arab forces launched their attack on the new state of Israel in 1948, Peres was given the chief responsibility for securing military equipment for Israel from abroad. Later he organized Israel’s nuclear program and is regarded as the father of Israel’s atom bomb.

From Armed Force to Reconciliation

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Yitzhak Rabin

Yitzhak Rabin was the soldier who became Prime Minister of Israel in 1992, and who abandoned the use of force in favor of negotiations to achieve peace with the Palestinians. He approved the Oslo Accords, negotiated in secret in Norway in 1993. Israel was to withdraw gradually from occupied territories and to grant the Palestinians self-determination. The agreement was signed in Washington the same year, and in 1994 Rabin shared the Peace Prize with his own Minister of Foreign Affairs Shimon Peres and the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Rabin was born in Jerusalem. During World War II he fought on the British side to prevent German conquest of the Middle East. After the war he fought against the Brits because they were preventing Jewish immigration into Palestine. Rabin took part in the war against the Arabs when the state of Israel was founded in 1948, and wound up as army chief of staff. In the 1970s he embarked on a political career, and competed with Shimon Peres for the top posts in the Labour Party.

Some Jews saw the Oslo Accords as a betrayal, and Rabin was assassinated by a religious fanatic in the autumn of 1995.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1995

Joseph Rotblat and Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs

The Nobel Peace Prize 1995 was awarded jointly to Joseph Rotblat and 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”

Scientist Opposed to Nuclear Weapons

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Joseph Rotblat

When Joseph Rotblat was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995, 50 years had passed since the atom bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But it was 52 years since Joseph Rotblat had first taken a stance against the development of the new weapons of mass destruction. In his opinion, science and research should serve the cause of peace.

Of Jewish descent, Rotblat was born in Warsaw, Poland. He studied physics and took up research in Great Britain in 1939. His work on splitting the atom led him to the conclusion that it was possible to produce an atomic bomb. In 1943 he was given permission to withdraw from the Manhattan Project, in which the United States and Great Britain were cooperating on the production of nuclear weapons. To Rotblat it was clear that Germany would not manage to make an atomic bomb before the war was over. He also feared that nuclear weapons might be used in a clash with the communist Soviet Union.

During the post-war period, Joseph Rotblat has done an enormous amount of work in the cause of peace, dialogue and disarmament through the Pugwash movement, with which he shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995.

The Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs

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Pugwash

The aim of the Pugwash Conferences is to diminish the role of nuclear arms in international politics. Underlying the holding of the first conference in Pugwash, Canada, in 1957 was the Russell-Einstein Manifesto against weapons of mass destruction that had been issued in 1955. The object was to involve and inform people, and Albert Einstein and the mathematician and philosopher Bertrand Russell were prime movers.

One of those who was stirred to enthusiasm was the Canadian businessman Cyrus Eaton. He financed the first international conference of independent scientists in his home town of Pugwash. Up to the Peace Prize award in 1995, 37 conferences had been held.

Three issues have been most important to Pugwash: the dangers of nuclear energy in war and peace, control of nuclear weapons, and the responsibility of science to society.

During the Cold War, the Pugwash movement served as a channel of communication between the communist Eastern block and the Western democracies. Participants played important parts behind the scenes in bringing about nuclear test ban and non-proliferation treaties.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1996

Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo and José Ramos-Horta

The Nobel Peace Prize 1996 was awarded jointly to Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo and José Ramos-Horta “for their work towards a just and peaceful solution to the conflict in East Timor”

The Courageous Peace Bishop

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Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo

The other East Timorese who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996 was Carlos Felipe Ximenes Belo. He grew up in a farming family, began taking an interest in religious questions at an early age, and was ordained a Catholic priest in 1981.

Shortly after being elected head of the Catholic church in East Timor in 1983, Carlos Belo openly denounced the brutal Indonesian occupation of the province. The occupiers responded by placing Belo under strict surveillance, but the Bishop refused to be intimidated, even by numerous threats to his life. He continued to speak up for nonviolent resistance to the oppression.

In 1989 he demanded that the UN arrange a plebiscite on East Timor, and after a bloody massacre two years later he helped to smuggle two witnesses to Geneva, where they described the violations to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Belo’s struggle gained the sympathy of the Pope in Rome, who demonstrated it by visiting East Timor in the late 1980s.

The Tireless Diplomat

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José Ramos-Horta

In 1975, when Portugal had devolved its colonial rule, East Timor was occupied by Indonesia. José Ramos-Horta was one of the leaders of the resistance. He did not take up arms himself, but left the country as foreign minister in the government set up by the liberation movement FRETELIN (Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor). For the next twenty years he traveled all over the world pleading the cause of the East Timorese, above all in the United Nations. Ramos-Horta shared the Peace Prize with his countryman, Bishop Carlos Belo.

In the mid-1980s, Ramos-Horta began advocating dialogue with Indonesia, and in 1992 he presented a peace plan. It contained concrete proposals for humanitarian cooperation with the occupying power and a growing international presence headed by the UN. This was to lay the foundations for Indonesian withdrawal and self-determination for the East Timorese people.

Both these peace objectives were reached in 2001. According to Ramos-Horta, the Nobel Peace Prize contributed significantly to this end.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1997

International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and Jody Williams

The Nobel Peace Prize 1997 was awarded jointly to International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and Jody Williams “for their work for the banning and clearing of anti-personnel mines”

The International Campaign to Ban Landmines, ICBL

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International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL)

Landmines are the scourge of poor countries. 100 million un-detonated anti-personnel mines still remain buried in 60 countries after wars and armed conflicts. Their purpose is to maim or kill soldiers, but it is the civilian population that suffers most. Each year 25,000 people are injured.

The ICBL began its work in 1991. Its object was to bring about an international ban on landmines. Moreover, governments all over the world were to be urged to finance mine clearance. The organization was fronted by Jody Williams from the USA, who shared the Peace Prize with the ICBL in 1997.

In 1997, the ICBL had the support of over 1,000 organizations in 60 countries. That year, the representatives of 120 countries signed the Ottawa Convention prohibiting landmines. It was the world’s small and medium-sized states that got the resolution adopted, strongly supported by the ICBL. But the great powers did not sign.

Peace Activist and a Driving Force in the Campaign against Landmines

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Jody Williams

When Jody Williams was studying international politics in the 1980s, she became involved in aid work in war-torn El Salvador. Landmines were a constant threat to the civilian population, and she was given responsibility for providing artificial limbs for children who had lost arms and legs.

From 1991 on, Jody Williams was a driving force in the launching of an international campaign against landmines. By 1997, thanks to her strength and organizational talent, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) had 1,000 organizations from 60 countries on its list of members.

The Ottawa Convention, which was signed by 120 states and entered into force in 1999, will always be associated with the names of Jody Williams and the ICBL. It banned the use, production, sale and stock-piling of anti-personnel mines. In addition it contained provisions concerning mine clearance and the obligation to provide humanitarian assistance.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1998

John Hume and David Trimble

The Nobel Peace Prize 1998 was awarded jointly to John Hume and David Trimble “for their efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in Northern Ireland”

Civil Rights Campaigner and European

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John Hume

In the Easter of 1998, Northern Ireland’s largest political parties signed a peace agreement which became known as the Good Friday agreement. In the autumn of 1998, the Nobel Committee decided to award the Peace Prize to two persons who were at the heart of the peace process in the civil-war-torn province.

One of the two was the Catholic leader of the moderate Social Democratic and Labour Party, John Hume, regarded by many as the principal architect behind the peace agreement. After having joined the Northern Irish civil rights movement in the late 1960s, he became convinced that nationalism was a declining force in the new Europe. In his view, Northern Ireland needed extended self-government with powers reasonably divided between the population groups: better relations would have to be established between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and between London and Dublin. Hume devoted a great deal of energy to drawing the leader of the IRA, Gerry Adams, and the British Government, into the negotiations.

Protestant and Seeker of Compromise

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David Trimble

David Trimble, the leader of Northern Ireland’s Protestant party, the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), was known for a long time for his implacable stance towards the Catholics. But only a few weeks after taking over as party leader in 1995, he launched discussions with his political opponents in search of compromise. Trimble sat down at the negotiating table with the Prime Minister of Ireland, the old arch-enemy Sinn Fein, and the British. In April 1998 he was one of the signatories to a peace agreement which he persuaded a UUP majority to support. The Good Friday agreement entailed extended self-government for Northern Ireland under which a reasonable degree of influence was secured for both population groups. The penal code would be reviewed, imprisoned terrorists would be released, and unlawful weapons would be destroyed.

The Peace Prize encouraged Trimble to take further steps in the peace process after he had taken over as First Minister in Northern Ireland’s coalition government in November 1999.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1999

Médecins Sans Frontières

The Nobel Peace Prize 1999 was awarded to Médecins Sans Frontières “in recognition of the organization’s pioneering humanitarian work on several continents”

Médecins Sans Frontières

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Médecins Sans Frontières

Médecins Sans Frontières is an independent, neutral and impartial emergency aid organization that was founded in France in 1971. It demands full and unimpeded freedom to carry out its work in accordance with medical ethics and the rights of human beings to humanitarian aid. The organization is a frequent critic of violence and violations of human rights in areas of conflict where it has stationed doctors and aid workers.

MSF has been involved in a large number of aid operations, both at scenes of natural disasters and in theatres of war. The organization’s current budget amounts to NOK 2 billion. It annually sends out 2,500 doctors and nurses, who are well assisted by 15,000 local employees in 80 countries. MSF annually carries out 6 million consultations and 200,000 surgical interventions. Such figures make it one of the world’s largest emergency aid organizations.

The Nobel Peace Prize 2000

Kim Dae-jung

The Nobel Peace Prize 2000 was awarded to Kim Dae-jung “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”

“The Sunshine Politician”

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Kim Dae-jung

South Korea’s President Kim Dae-jung was awarded the Peace Prize for his “sunshine policy” towards North Korea. By means of warmth and friendliness he sought to lay the foundations for a peaceful reunification of the two Korean states, which had been in a state of war since 1950.

It was not only Kim Dae-jung’s policy of reconciliation with the neighboring state to the north that the Nobel Committee set store by. It also valued his long and courageous struggle for democracy and human rights in his own country, which had entailed long periods of imprisonment, house arrest, kidnapping and exile.

In the summer of 2000, Kim Dae-jung arranged a summit meeting with North Korea’s leader, one result of which was that family members who had been separated for over forty years were allowed to meet. South Korea maintained its humanitarian aid to its neighbor, and relations were developed in the fields of transport, sports, art and culture.

The Nobel Peace Prize 2001

United Nations (U.N.) and Kofi Annan

The Nobel Peace Prize 2001 was awarded jointly to United Nations (U.N.) and Kofi Annan “for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world”

The United Nations (UN)

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The United Nations (UN)

Support for organized cooperation between states and for the build-up of a global organization has been an important guideline for the Nobel Committee throughout its history. It therefore came as no surprise that the United Nations was favored on the occasion of the Peace Prize centenary in 2001, together with the organization’s Secretary-General Kofi Annan. In previous years the Committee had agreed on a total of thirteen Laureates with connections with the United Nations.

The United Nations Organization was planned by the allies, with the United States in the lead, during World War II, and in 1945 it replaced the League of Nations as a forum for safeguarding world peace. Disagreements between the great powers made it impossible to establish a supranational armed force under UN auspices that could be put into action against violators of the peace. In its early years the organization’s efforts were concentrated instead on overcoming poverty and the promotion of economic and social development. Since 1970 the advancement of human rights has been an increasingly important United Nations concern.

Africa’s Foremost Diplomat

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Kofi Annan

In 2001, its centennial year, the Nobel Committee decided that the Peace Prize was to be divided between the United Nations (UN) and the world organization’s Secretary-General, Kofi Annan. The choice showed the Committee’s traditional support for organized cooperation between states.

Kofi Annan was born in Ghana in 1938. His father was a chief and governor of the Ashanti province. He attended a Methodist school and a technical college in his home country before continuing his academic studies in Switzerland and the United States.

Annan pursued a varied career in the UN system until 1993, when he was appointed Deputy Secretary-General for peacekeeping operations, a position he held until 1997, when he took over as the United Nations’ seventh Secretary-General.

Kofi Annan was awarded the Peace Prize for having revitalized the UN and for having given priority to human rights. The Nobel Committee also recognized his commitment to the struggle to contain the spreading of the HIV virus in Africa and his declared opposition to international terrorism.

The Nobel Peace Prize 2002

Jimmy Carter

The Nobel Peace Prize 2002 was awarded to Jimmy Carter “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”.

The Active Ex-President

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Jimmy Carter

While the President of the United States, George W. Bush, was planning war on Iraq in the autumn of 2002, former President Jimmy Carter was awarded the Peace Prize for undertaking peace negotiations, campaigning for human rights, and working for social welfare. According to the Chairman of the Nobel Committee, Carter ought to have been awarded the Prize as early as in 1978, when he successfully mediated a peace agreement between Egypt and Israel.

Jimmy Carter was born in Georgia. In 1953, after a military career, he took over his parents’ farm near the town of Plains. He went into politics as a Democrat, and was elected Governor of Georgia. In 1976 Carter won the presidential election, partly thanks to his reputation as an honest born-again Christian.

The high-point of his presidential term was the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel. Thereafter, he experienced several setbacks in his foreign policy, such as the conflict with Iran after the fall of the Shah and a new cold war with the Soviet Union after that country’s invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979. In the following year Carter lost the presidential election to Ronald Reagan. As ex-President, Carter conducted an active peace and mediation campaign which sometimes seemed to run counter to official US policy.

The Nobel Peace Prize 2003

Shirin Ebadi
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Shirin Ebadi

The Nobel Peace Prize 2003 was awarded to Shirin Ebadi “for her efforts for democracy and human rights. She has focused especially on the struggle for the rights of women and children”.

The First Female Peace Prize Laureate from the Islamic World

The lawyer Shirin Ebadi was Iran’s first female judge. After Khomeini’s revolution in 1979 she was dismissed. Ebadi opened a legal practice and began defending people who were being persecuted by the authorities. In the year 2000 she was imprisoned herself for having criticized her country’s hierocracy.

Shirin Ebadi took up the struggle for fundamental human rights and especially the rights of women and children. She took part in the establishment of organizations that placed these issues on the agenda, and wrote books proposing amendments to Iran’s succession and divorce laws. She also wanted to withdraw political power from the clergy and advocated the separation of religion and state.

In its choice of Ebadi, the Nobel Committee expressed a wish to reduce the tensions between the Islamic and the Western worlds following the terrorist attack on the United States on 11 September 2001. At the same time, the Committee wished to extend a helping hand to the Iranian reform movement.

The Nobel Peace Prize 2004

Wangari Muta Maathai
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Wangari Muta Maathai

The Nobel Peace Prize 2004 was awarded to Wangari Maathai “for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace”.

Sustainable Development, Democracy and Peace

Wangari Maathai was the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. She was also the first female scholar from East and Central Africa to take a doctorate (in biology), and the first female professor ever in her home country of Kenya. Maathai played an active part in the struggle for democracy in Kenya, and belonged to the opposition to Daniel arap Moi’s regime.

In 1977 she started a grass-roots movement aimed at countering the deforestation that was threatening the means of subsistence of the agricultural population. The campaign encouraged women to plant trees in their local environments and to think ecologically. The so-called Green Belt Movement spread to other African countries, and contributed to the planting of over thirty million trees.

Maathai’s mobilisation of African women was not limited in its vision to work for sustainable development; she saw tree-planting in a broader perspective which included democracy, women’s rights, and international solidarity. In the words of the Nobel Committee: “She thinks globally and acts locally.”

The Nobel Peace Prize 2005

 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Mohamed ElBaradei
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IAEA

The Nobel Peace Prize 2005 was awarded jointly to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Mohamed ElBaradei “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”

Preventing the Military Use of Nuclear Energy

The IAEA was established in 1957 for the purpose of promoting increased use of nuclear power for civil purposes without entailing the further spread of nuclear arms. When the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) entered into force in 1970, the IAEA became the most important instrument for controlling that the treaty was complied with.

All non-nuclear weapon states that have acceded to the NPT must accept monitoring by the IAEA of their nuclear power stations and other nuclear facilities. This control, carried out both by technical means and in local inspections, has grown increasingly efficient. The IAEA was for instance the first to show that North Korea was developing nuclear weapons. In the lead-up to the war with Iraq in 2003, the IAEA disagreed with the American claims that the country had resumed its nuclear arms program. In this case, too, the IAEA proved to be right.

In the view of the Nobel Committee, the threat of proliferation of nuclear arms must be met by the broadest possible international cooperation under the leadership of the IAEA and the UN Security Council.

Proliferation of Nuclear Arms Must Be Stopped

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Mohamed ElBaradei

Mohamed ElBaradei took up the post of Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in December 1997, and had managed the Agency’s affairs outstandingly for two four-year periods when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2005. Just before the award was announced, ElBaradei was re-elected for a third period.

In the reasons it gave for the award, the Nobel Committee pointed to the important work ElBaradei and the IAEA had done to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that civil use of nuclear power takes place under reliable international control. The Committee also noted how much ElBaradei had done to strengthen the IAEA as an organization and to increase accession to the nuclear non-proliferation regime.

Mohamed ElBaradei was born in Cairo in 1942. He read law in Egypt, and took a doctorate in international law at the New York University School of Law in 1974. Before becoming head of the IAEA he had worked for a number of years as an Egyptian diplomat and in the United Nations.

The Nobel Peace Prize 2006

Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank

The Nobel Peace Prize 2006 was awarded jointly to Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank “for their efforts to create economic and social development from below”

Banker to the Poorest of the Poor

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Muhammad Yunus

Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2006 for their work to “create economic and social development from below”. Grameen Bank’s objective since its establishment in 1983 has been to grant poor people small loans on easy terms – so-called micro-credit – and Yunus was the bank’s founder.

In 1972, following studies in Bangladesh and the USA, Yunus was appointed professor of economics at the University of Chittagong. When Bangladesh suffered a famine in 1974, he felt that he had to do something more for the poor beyond simply teaching. He decided to give long-term loans to people who wanted to start their own small enterprises. This initiative was extended on a larger scale through Grameen Bank.

According to Yunus, poverty means being deprived of all human value. He regards micro-credit both as a human right and as an effective means of emerging from poverty: Lend the poor money in amounts which suit them, teach them a few basic financial principles, and they generally manage on their own, Yunus claims.

Microcredit as a Means of Fighting Poverty

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Grameen Bank

By establishing Grameen Bank in 1983, Muhammad Yunus sought to realise his vision of self-support for the very poorest people by means of loans on easy terms. The bank has since been a source of inspiration for similar microcredit institutions in over one hundred countries.

Banks in the traditional system have been reluctant to lend money to anyone unable to give some form or other of security. Grameen Bank, on the other hand, works on the assumption that even the poorest of the poor can manage their own financial affairs and development given suitable conditions. The instrument is microcredit: small long-term loans on easy terms.

When Grameen Bank was awarded the Peace Prize in 2006, more than seven million borrowers had been granted such loans. The average amount borrowed was 100 dollars. The repayment percentage was very high. Over 95 per cent of the loans went to women or groups of women. Experience showed that that ensured the best security for the bank and the greatest beneficial effect for the borrowers’ families.

The Nobel Peace Prize 2007

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Albert Arnold (Al) Gore Jr.

The Nobel Peace Prize 2007 was awarded jointly to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Albert Arnold (Al) Gore Jr. “for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change”

Climate Change will Increase the Danger of War

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Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

By awarding the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and former US Vice President Al Gore Jr., the Norwegian Nobel Committee called special attention to their efforts to obtain and disseminate greater knowledge concerning man-made climate changes and the steps that need to be taken to counteract those changes.

The IPCC was established in 1988 by the UN General Assembly. The first four main reports submitted by the Climate Panel between 1990 and 2007 were based on a coordinated program of research by several thousand experts in over a hundred countries. The reports stated that climate change is accelerating, that the changes are to a significant extent man-made, and that the need to adopt counter-measures is urgent if we are to prevent a global climate crisis from arising in the near future and threatening the basis of human life.

According to the IPCC, there is a real danger that the climate changes may also increase the danger of war and conflict, because they will place already scarce natural resources, not least drinking water, under greater pressure and put large population groups to flight from drought, flooding, and other extreme weather conditions.

An Inconvenient Truth

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Albert Arnold (Al) Gore Jr.

The Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 was awarded to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and former US Vice President Al Gore for their efforts to obtain and disseminate information about the climate challenge. In Gore’s case, certainly, the award was grounded in his tireless campaign to put the climate crisis on the political agenda.

As early as in 1992, the year when he was elected Vice President of the United States, Gore was making himself known as a highly environment-conscious politician, among other things through his book Earth in the Balance: Forging a New Common Purpose, in which he took up the problem of global warming. Having lost the presidential election in 2000, he decided to use his influence to increase public awareness in the United States and other countries of the seriousness of the environmental situation. This goal he well-nigh achieved by means of his documentary film An Inconvenient Truth (2006).

According to the Nobel Committee, Gore is probably the single individual who has done most to rouse the public and the governments that action had to be taken to meet the climate challenge. “He is,” in the words of the Committee, “the great communicator”.

The Nobel Peace Prize 2008

Martti Ahtisaari

The Nobel Peace Prize 2008 was awarded to Martti Ahtisaari “for his important efforts, on several continents and over more than three decades, to resolve international conflicts”.

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Martti Ahtisaari

The Nobel Peace Prize for 2008 was awarded to Martti Ahtisaari, former President of Finland, for his great efforts, on several continents and over more than three decades, to resolve international conflicts. Ahtisaari was a major contributor when Namibia achieved independence in 1989-90, arbitrated in Kosovo in 1999 and 2005-07, and helped to bring the long-lasting conflict in the Aceh province in Indonesia to an end in 2005.

Ahtisaari was born in Viborg in 1937. In the Winter War in 1939-40, the town was annexed by the Soviet Union and its inhabitants were driven out. Those childhood experiences motivated him in his adult commitment to peace.

In 1977, following many years in the foreign service, Ahtisaari was appointed UN Commissioner for Namibia. The assignment aroused his interest in the resolution of conficts and peace mediation. He was President of Finland from 1994 to 2000. After his presidential term, he again stepped up his work for peace, among other things by establishing Crisis Management Initiative (CMI), which played an active part in bringing about the Aceh peace accord in 2005.

The Nobel Peace Prize 2009

Barack H. Obama

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Barack H. Obama

The Nobel Peace Prize 2009 was awarded to Barack H. Obama “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples”.

Inspires Hope for a Better Future

Barack H. Obama, the 44th President of the United States, had been in power for less than eight months when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009. Among the reasons it gave, the Nobel Committee lauded Obama for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples”. Emphasis was also given to his support – in word and deed – for the vision of a world free from nuclear weapons.

Even before the election, Obama had advocated dialogue and cooperation across national, ethnic, religious and political dividing lines. As President, he called for a new start to relations between the Muslim world and the West based on common interests and mutual understanding and respect. In accordance with a promise he made during his election campaign, he set in motion a plan for the withdrawal of U.S. occupying forces from Iraq.

During his first year in power, President Obama showed himself to be a strong spokesman for human rights and democracy, and as a constructive supporter of the work being done to put effective measures in place to combat the climate crisis. This is in line with his appeal: “Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges”.

Watch interview and presentation ceremony of Barack H. Obama

The Nobel Peace Prize 2010

Liu Xiaobo
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Liu Xiaobo

The Nobel Peace Prize 2010 was awarded to Liu Xiaobo “for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China”.

Sentenced for the Crime of Speaking

Liu Xiaobo was born on the 28th of December 1955. As a young man he studied literature and philosophy, and worked as a literary critic and university lecturer in Beijing. He took a doctorate in 1988, after which he was a guest lecturer at universities in Europe and the USA.

Liu Xiaobo took part in the student protests on Tiananmen Square in 1989. For that he was sentenced to two years in prison. Later he served three years in a labour camp for having criticised China’s one-party system.

For over twenty years, Liu has fought for a more open and democratic China. He demands that the Chinese authorities comply with Article 35 of the Chinese Constitution, which lays down that the country’s citizens enjoy “freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration”.

In 2008, Liu was a co-author of Charta 08, a manifesto which advocates the gradual shifting of China’s political and legal system in the direction of democracy. He was arrested in December 2008, and sentenced a year later to eleven years’ imprisonment for undermining the state authorities. Liu has constantly denied the charges. “Opposition is not the same as undermining”, he points out.

Watch presentation ceremony of Liu Xiaobo

The Nobel Peace Prize 2011

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman
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Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

The Nobel Peace Prize 2011 was awarded jointly to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work”.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was born in Monrovia, Liberia. She married in 1955 and, in 1961, travelled with her husband to the US, where she studied economics at Harvard University and other institutions. After her return to Liberia, she worked for the government, including as the Minister of Finance, prior to the military coup of 1980. After having worked within the banking industry and at the United Nations, she was defeated in the Liberian presidential election of 1997. She was later elected as president in 2005 and then re-elected in 2011. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has four children.

Women often suffer most when wars and conflicts erupt. At the same time, their opportunity to influence events during conflicts is often severely limited. Women’s rights and full participation in democratic processes are important to ensure lasting peace. In Liberia, bloody civil wars ravaged the country between 1989 and 2003. In 2005, two years after the guns fell silent, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was elected as the nation’s president. As the first female head of state ever to be democratically elected in Africa, she has worked to promote peace, reconciliation and social and economic development.

Watch interview  and presentation ceremony of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

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Leymah Gbowee

Leymah Gbowee was born and raised in Liberia. She educated herself as a social worker and has worked to help those who suffered psychological trauma during the civil war in Liberia, including child soldiers. After having led the women’s peace movement that was decisive in ending the civil war in 2002, she received a degree in her field from an American university. Leymah Gbowee is currently head of the Women Peace and Security Network Africa, based in Ghana. She has six children.

Women’s rights and full participation in democratic processes are important to ensure lasting peace. In Liberia, bloody civil wars had ravaged the country since 1989 when Leymah Gbowee called together women from different ethnic and religious groups in the fight for peace. Dressed in white T-shirts they held daily demonstrations at the fishmarket in Monrovia. After having collected money she led a delegation of Liberian women to Ghana to put pressure on the warring factions during the peace-talk process. This played a decisive role in ending the war.

Watch interview and presentation ceremony of Leymah Gbowee.

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Tawakkol Karman

Tawakkol Karman was born in Mekhlaf and grew up near Taiz in Yemen. Her father is a lawyer and politician. She has worked as a journalist since earning a degree in political science from Sana’a University. Her involvement in demonstrations and actions critical of the Yemeni regime has led to her arrest and murder threats on several occasions. She has promoted the struggle for democracy and human rights in Yemen at the international level, including at the UN. Tawakkol Karman is married with three children.

Women’s rights and full participation in democratic processes are important to ensure lasting peace. In Yemen, democratic rights are restricted. In 2005, Tawakkol Karman co-founded the group Women Journalists Without Chains, in order to promote freedom of expression and democratic rights. From 2007 to 2010, she regularly led demonstrations and sit-ins in Tahrir Square, Sana’a. She actively participated in the 2011 protests against ruling regimes that took place in a number of Arab countries.

Watch interview and presentation ceremony of Tawakkol Karman

The Nobel Peace Prize 2012

European Union (EU)
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European Union (EU)

The Nobel Peace Prize 2012 was awarded to European Union (EU) “for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe”.

Cooperation between Countries

After the decimation of the Second World War, reconciliation between Germany and France was an important step towards fostering peace in Europe. The two countries – which by then had fought three wars within the space of 70 years – built the European Coal and Steel Community together with four other countries in 1952. This organization became the foundation for an ever-broader cooperation within what has been known since 1993 as the European Union (EU).

In this time of economic and social unrest, the Norwegian Nobel Committee wished to reward the EU’s successful struggle for peace, reconciliation and for democracy and human rights. When the community expanded to include additional countries during the 1970s and 1980s, democracy was a prerequisite for membership. After the fall of European communist regimes around 1990, the union was able to expand to include several countries in Central and Eastern Europe, where democracy had been strengthened and conflict checked. The Nobel Committee also believes that the question of EU membership is bolstering the reconciliation process after the wars in the Balkan States, and that the desire for EU membership has also promoted democracy and human rights in Turkey.

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The Nobel Peace Prize 2013

Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)
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Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)

The Nobel Peace Prize 2013 was awarded to Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons “for its extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons”.

The development and use of chemical weapons first began during World War I. Even though the use of chemical weapons were prohibited in 1925 chemical weapons have since been used a number of times by both nations and terrorists. An international convention that also prohibited the manufacture and storage of chemical weapons came into effect in 1997. That same year, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was formed for international cooperation to ensure that the convention is honored through inspections and the destruction of chemical weapons.

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The Nobel Peace Prize 2014

Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai
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Kailash Satyarthi

The Nobel Peace Prize 2014 was awarded jointly to Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai “for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education”

Kailash Satyarthi was born in the Vidisha district of Madhya Pradesh in India. After completing an electrical engineering degree, he worked as a teacher in the area. In 1980, he left teaching and founded the organization Bachpan Bachao Andolan, which has freed thousands of children from slave-like conditions. He has also been active in a wide range of other organizations working against child labor and for children’s rights to education. Kailash Satyarthi is married and has a son and a daughter.

Much of the world’s population, especially in poor countries, is made up of children and young people. To achieve a peaceful world, it is crucial that the rights of children and young people be respected. Following the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi, Indian activist Kailash Satyarthi has waged a peaceful struggle to stop children being exploited as labor instead of attending school. He has also contributed to the development of international conventions on the rights of children.

Watch interview, presentation ceremony and nobel lecture of Kailash Satyarthi

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Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai was born in the Swat district of northwestern Pakistan, where her father was a school owner and was active in educational issues. After having blogged for the BBC since 2009 about her experiences during the Taliban’s growing influence in the region, in 2012 the Taliban attempted to assassinate Malala Yousafzai on the bus home from school. She survived, but underwent several operations in the UK, where she lives today. In addition to her schooling, she continues her work for the right of girls to education.

Much of the world’s population, especially in poor countries, is made up of children and young people. To achieve a peaceful world, it is crucial that the rights of children and young people be respected. Injustices perpetrated against children contribute to the spread of conflicts to future generations. Already at eleven years of age Malala Yousafzai fought for girls’ right to education. After having suffered an attack on her life by Taliban gunmen in 2012, she has continued her struggle and become a leading advocate of girls’ rights.

Watch nobel lecture and presentation ceremony of Malala Yousafzai

The Nobel Peace Prize 2015

National Dialogue Quartet
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National Dialogue Quartet

“for its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution of 2011”.

After the Arab Spring – a wave of protests against entrenched regimes in North Africa and the Middle East – the struggle for democracy and human rights was slowed and beaten back in many countries. In Tunisia, the National Dialogue Quartet, a consortium of four organizations: the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT), the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts (UTICA), the Tunisian Human Rights League (LTDH), and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers, succeeded in creating a peaceful dialogue. Through a mediating role, the quartet allowed political and religious divides to be bridged, and a democratic development followed.

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The Nobel Peace Prize 2016

Juan Manuel Santos
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Juan Manuel Santos

The Nobel Peace Prize 2016 was awarded to Juan Manuel Santos “for his resolute efforts to bring the country’s more than 50-year-long civil war to an end”.

Juan Manuel Santos was born in Bogota, Colombia. After a few years in the Navy he studied economics at the University of Kansas, London School of Economics, and Harvard University. He has worked as a journalist and editor. As a politician he represents the liberal-conservative Partido Social de Unidad Naciona. Since the 1990s he has served as Minister of Foreign Trade, Minister of Finance and Public Credit and as Minster of National Defense. In 2010 he was elected president of Colombia. Juan Manuel Santos is married and has three children.

Since the 1960s, Colombia has been plagued by civil war. In 2012 the country’s President Juan Manuel Santos took the initiative for negotiations between the government and the FARC guerillas. In June 2016, an agreement was reached on a ceasefire. In a referendum in October the same year, a narrow majority voted to reject a draft peace agreement. By awarding Juan Manuel Santos the Peace Prize, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has wanted to encourage continued dialogue and struggles for peace and reconciliation.

Watch interview, presenation ceremony and nobel lecture of Juan Manuel Santos.

The Nobel Peace Prize 2017

International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)
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International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)

The Nobel Peace Prize 2017 was awarded to International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) “for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons”.

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The Nobel Peace Prize 2018

The 2018 Nobel Peace Prize has not been awarded yet. It will be announced on Friday 5 October, 11:00 a.m.