Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Trivia: Nobel Peace Prize


 The Nobel Peace Prize is one of six awards in the memory of Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite.

Nobel left instructions in his Will that his money should create the Nobel Prize after reading an article in a French newspaper that called him the "merchant of death" and said that he would be remembered for his invention of dynamite and its ability to kill more people than ever before.


The Nobel Foundation administers the awards, asking different committees or academies to decide who receives the prizes. People who receive a Nobel Prize are called "Nobel laureates".

Each prize winner gets a medal, a diploma and a sum of money.


Every year the organisation gives out six awards for the people "who best benefit mankind through their actions" in one of the six subjects; peace, literature, physics, chemistry, economics, and medicine.


 The Peace Prize is given out in Norway, but the other Prizes are given out in Sweden. This is because Norway and Sweden were one country when the prizes were started.

The awards are presented in Stockholm, Sweden, in a ceremony on December 10, the anniversary of Nobel's death.


The list of Nobel Peace Prize winners includes Martin Luther King, Jr., Elihu Root, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Henri La Fontaine, Mikhail Gorbachev, Aung San Suu Kyi, Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan, Jimmy Carter, Wangari Maathai, Barack Obama, Liu Xiaobo, Juan Manuel Santos and Abiy Ahmed.


There have only been 19 instances when the annual Nobel Peace Prize has not been awarded since its inception in 1901.  The Norwegian Nobel Committee determines the winner after the nominations have been culled from more than 300 people to 20-30 final candidates.  It’s much easier to be nominated than to win.

Nominations can be made by anyone who is qualified to do so, which includes members of national assemblies and governments. University professors, former advisors of the Nobel Committee and people who have been awarded the prize can also nominate recipients.

The lists of nominees are not released to the public and are kept secret for 50 years.

The lists show that:

Italian Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini was nominated for the Peace Prize in 1935, the same year he invaded Ethiopia.  The prize ended up being awarded to Carl von Ossietzky, a German who led the fight against Germany’s rearmament.

Hitler and Mussolini, June 1940

Adolf Hitler was nominated in 1939 by a member of the Swedish Parliament as a protest against British PM Neville Chamberlain having been nominated.  The nomination was subsequently withdrawn but no prize was awarded that year because of the outbreak of World War II.

Josef Stalin was nominated by a former Norwegian foreign minister in 1945 after WW 2 had ended.  Norway had been allied with the Soviet Union for many years and the Red Army had liberated part of the country from German occupation. Also, Allied countries portrayed Stalin positively in mass media because of the Soviet actions during the war.  The award went to US politician Cordell Hull, the longest serving Secretary of State (11 years).   Stalin was nominated again in 1948 but missed out that year as well, no prize being awarded that year as a tribute to the recently assassinated Gandhi.

Stalin, Hitler and Mussolini


The last 10 Nobel Peace Prize winners:

Barack Obama, "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."

Liu Xiaobo: "for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China"

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman, "for the security and women's rights"

European Union, "for having over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe"

Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons , for its work in destroying chemical weapons

Kailash Satyarthi (India) and Malala Yousafzai (Pakistan), "for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education."

Tunisian 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"

Juan Manuel Santos (Colombia), "for his resolute efforts to bring the country's more than 50-year-long civil war to an end, a war that has cost the lives of at least 220,000 Colombians and displaced close to six million people"

International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, "for its work to show the humanitarian crisis of any use of nuclear weapon and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons."

Denis Mukwege (DRC), Nadia Murad (Iraq), "for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as weapon of war and armed conflict."

Abiy Ahmed (Ethiopia), "for his work in ending the 20 year stalemate between Ethiopia and Eritrea."


"I'm going to tell you about the Nobel Peace Prize, I'll tell you about that. I made a deal, I saved a country, and I just heard that the head of that country is now getting the Nobel Peace Prize for saving the country. I said: 'What, did I have something to do with it?' Yeah, but you know, that's the way it is. As long as we know, that's all that matters... I saved a big war, I've saved a couple of them."

-        President Donald Trump on not getting the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019, that year’s prize having been awarded to Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed. 

  • Although he did not name the Nobel Peace Prize winner or the country, it is clear that President Trump was referring to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
  • Abiy Ahmed, 43, is Africa's youngest head of government. He has introduced massive liberalising reforms to Ethiopia, shaking up what was a tightly controlled nation. He freed thousands of opposition activists from jail and allowed exiled dissidents to return home. He has also allowed the media to operate freely and appointed women to prominent positions.
  • The Norwegian Nobel Committee said Mr Abiy was honoured for his "decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea". The two countries fought a bitter border war from 1998-2000, which killed tens of thousands of people. Although a ceasefire was signed in 2000, the neighbours technically remained at war until July 2018, when Mr Abiy and Eritrea's President Isaias Afwerki signed a peace deal. So for two decades, the long border was closed, dividing families and making trade impossible. The Nobel Committee said it hoped the peace agreement would help to bring about positive change to the citizens of Ethiopia and Eritrea.
  • Since the peace deal with Eritrea, Mr Abiy has also been involved in peace processes in other African countries, the committee said.

By the way, some families have received multiple Nobel awards, one such notable family being the Curies:

  • Marie Curie – for Physics in 1903 and for Chemistry in 1911

  • Her husband Pierre Curie – for Physics in 1903

  • Their daughter Irène Joliot-Curie – for Chemistry in 1935

  • Their son-in-law Frederic Joliot-Curie – for Chemistry in 1935

  • Henry Labouisse, the husband of the Curie's second daughter Ève, was the director of UNICEF when it won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1965.

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