Checked content

Nobel Peace Prize

Related subjects: Conflict and Peace

Background to the schools Wikipedia

This selection is made for schools by a children's charity read more. A quick link for child sponsorship is

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

The Nobel Peace Prize ( Norwegian and Swedish: Nobels fredspris) is one of the five Nobel Prizes created by the Swedish industrialist, inventor, and armaments manufacturer Alfred Nobel, along with the prizes in Chemistry, Physics, Physiology or Medicine, Literature. Since 1901, it has been awarded annually (with some exceptions) to those who have "done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."

Per Alfred Nobel's will, the recipient is selected by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, a 5-member committee appointed by the Parliament of Norway. Since 1990, the prize is awarded on December 10 in Oslo City Hall each year. The prize was formerly awarded in the Atrium of the University of Oslo Faculty of Law (1947–89), the Norwegian Nobel Institute (1905–46) and the Parliament (1901–04).

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


According to Nobel's will, the Peace Prize shall be awarded to the person who "shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."

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

Nobel died in 1896 and he did not leave an explanation for choosing peace as a prize category. As he was a trained chemical engineer, the categories for chemistry and physics were obvious choices. The reasoning behind the peace prize is less clear. According to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, his friendship with Bertha von Suttner, a peace activist and later recipient of the prize, profoundly influenced his decision to include peace as a category. Some Nobel scholars suggest it was Nobel's way to compensate for developing destructive forces. His inventions included dynamite and ballistite, both of which were used violently during his lifetime. Ballistite was used in war and the Irish Republican Brotherhood, an Irish nationalist organization, carried out dynamite attacks in the 1880s. Nobel was also instrumental in turning Bofors from an iron and steel company to an armaments company.

It is unclear why Nobel wished the Peace Prize to be administered in Norway, which was ruled in union with Sweden at the time of Nobel's death. The Norwegian Nobel Committee speculates that Nobel may have considered Norway better suited to awarding the prize, as it did not have the same militaristic traditions as Sweden. It also notes that at the end of the 19th century, the Norwegian parliament had become closely involved in the Inter-Parliamentary Union's efforts to resolve conflicts through mediation and arbitration.

Nomination and selection

The Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo, Norway

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


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

  • Members of national assemblies and governments and members of the Inter-Parliamentary Union
  • Members of the Permanent Court of Arbitration and the International Court of Justice at the Hague
  • Members of Institut de Droit International
  • University professors of history, social sciences, philosophy, law and theology, university presidents and directors of peace research and international affairs institutes
  • Former recipients, including board members of organizations that have previously won the prize
  • Present and past members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee
  • Former permanent advisers to the Norwegian Nobel Institute
The 14th Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize laureates

Nominations must usually be submitted to the Committee by the beginning of February in the award year. Nominations by committee members can be submitted up to the date of the first Committee meeting after this deadline.

In 2009, a record 205 nominations were received, but the record was broken again in 2010 with 237 nominations; in 2011, the record was broken once again with 241 nominations. The statutes of the Nobel Foundation do not allow information about nominations, considerations or investigations relating to awarding the prize to be made public for at least 50 years after a prize has been awarded. Over time many individuals have become known as "Nobel Peace Prize Nominees", but this designation has no official standing. Nominations from 1901 to 1956, however, have been released in a database.


Nominations are considered by the Nobel Committee at a meeting where a short list of candidates for further review is created. This short list is then considered by permanent advisers to the Nobel institute, which consists of the Institute's Director and the Research Director and a small number of Norwegian academics with expertise in subject areas relating to the prize. Advisers usually have some months to complete reports, which are then considered by the Committee to select the laureate. The Committee seeks to achieve a unanimous decision, but this is not always possible. The Nobel Committee typically comes to a conclusion in mid-September, but occasionally the final decision has not been made until the last meeting before the official announcement at the beginning of October.

Awarding the prize

Obverse of the Nobel Peace Prize Medal presented to Sir Ralph Norman Angell in 1933; the Imperial War Museum, London

The Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee presents the Nobel Peace Prize in the presence of the King of Norway on 10 December each year (the anniversary of Nobel's death). The Peace Prize is the only Nobel Prize not presented in Stockholm. The Nobel laureate receives a diploma, a medal and a document confirming the prize amount. As of 2009, the prize was worth 10 million SEK (about US$1.4 million). Since 1990, the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony is held at Oslo City Hall.

From 1947 to 1989, the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony was held in the Atrium of the University of Oslo Faculty of Law, a few hundred metres from Oslo City Hall. Between 1905 and 1946, the ceremony took place at the Norwegian Nobel Institute. From 1901 to 1904, the ceremony took place in the Storting (Parliament).


Unlike the scientific and literary Nobel Prizes, usually issued in retrospect often two or three decades after the awarded achievement, the Peace Prize has been awarded for more recent or immediate achievements, or with the intention of encouraging future achievements. Some commentators have suggested that to award a peace prize on the basis of unquantifiable contemporary opinion is unjust or possibly erroneous, especially as many of the judges cannot themselves be said to be impartial observers.

In 2011, a feature story in the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten contended that major criticisms of the award were that the Norwegian Nobel Committee ought to recruit members from professional and international backgrounds, rather than retired members of parliament; that there is too little openness about the criteria that the committee uses when they choose a recipient of the prize; and that the adherence to Nobel's will should be more strict. In the article, Norwegian historian Øivind Stenersen argues that Norway has been able to use the prize as an instrument for nation building and furthering Norway's foreign policy and economic interests.

In another 2011 Aftenposten opinion article, the grandson of one of Nobel's two brothers, Michael Nobel, also criticised what he believed to be the politicisation of the award, claiming that the Nobel Committee has not always acted in accordance with Nobel's will.

Criticism of individual conferments

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

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

The awards given to Austen Chamberlain, the Dalai Lama, Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Menachem Begin and Yasser Arafat, Lê Ðức Thọ, Henry Kissinger, Rigoberta Menchú, Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, Liu Xiaobo, Barack Obama, and the European Union have all been the subject of controversy.

Notable omissions

Foreign Policy has listed Mohandas Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt, Václav Havel, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, Sari Nusseibeh and Corazon Aquino as people who "never won the prize, but should have". Other notable omissions that have drawn criticism include Pope John Paul II and Dorothy Day. It was widely reported that Irena Sendler had been nominated for the 2007 prize, which was jointly won by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Al Gore. Whether Sendler was in fact a candidate is unknown as nominee information is kept secret by the prize committee for 50 years.

The omission of Mohandas Gandhi has been particularly widely discussed, including in public statements by various members of the Nobel Committee. The Committee has confirmed that Gandhi was nominated in 1937, 1938, 1939, 1947 and, finally, a few days before his death in January 1948. The omission has been publicly regretted by later members of the Nobel Committee. Geir Lundestad, Secretary of Norwegian Nobel Committee in 2006 said, "The greatest omission in our 106-year history is undoubtedly that Mahatma Gandhi never received the Nobel Peace prize. Gandhi could do without the Nobel Peace prize, whether Nobel committee can do without Gandhi is the question". In 1948, following Gandhi's death, the Nobel Committee declined to award a prize on the ground that "there was no suitable living candidate" that year. Later, when the Dalai Lama was awarded the Peace Prize in 1989, the chairman of the committee said that this was "in part a tribute to the memory of Mahatma Gandhi".

List of laureates

See the full List of Nobel Peace Prize laureates, from the founding of the award up to present.

Retrieved from ""