What is the Nobel Peace Prize?

J. Beam

The Nobel Peace Prize is an award presented to either an individual or an organization in accordance with Alfred Nobel’s living will. Alfred Nobel, creator of the five Nobel Prizes, was a Swedish inventor and industrialist. He disposed the prize in his will to be awarded to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses." The Nobel Peace Prize differs from the Nobel Prizes in literature, physics, chemistry, and medicine or physiology in that it may be presented not only to individuals, but also to organizations that are actively engaged in a process or effort that intends to promote world peace. The prize can be awarded for current efforts, rather than for having accomplished a goal or resolved an issue.

Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Norway.
Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Norway.

Having been awarded since 1901, the Nobel Peace Prize is considered a very astute recognition, but some past nominees and recipients have created controversy. Adolf Hitler was nominated in 1939, but the nomination was retracted. Other nominees include Joseph Stalin, Benito Mussolini, and Yasser Arafat. Arafat received the award, as did Henry Kissinger and Mikhail Gorbachev. Due to the practice of awarding the prize based on a work in progress, it stands to reason that some recipients may seem like poor choices in hindsight; however, many recipients have been life-long promoters of peace and human rights, such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa, and the Dalai Lama.

Sculpture of Elie Wiesel, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986.
Sculpture of Elie Wiesel, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986.

An individual or organization may be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by any qualifying individual, including former recipients, university professors, international leaders, and members of national assemblies. The list of nominees is kept private each year, and though a group or individual may later be referred to as a nominee, this title bears no official merit. Nominees and recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize between 1901 and 1951 are currently compiled into a database. There are those who publicly criticize the award as being politically slanted to the left and failing to recognize true merit, but even with past controversy, it continues to be an astute recognition that few would decline to accept.

Sculpture of Martin Luther King Jr., recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.
Sculpture of Martin Luther King Jr., recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.
Medal awarded to Nobel Prize winners.
Medal awarded to Nobel Prize winners.
The 14th Dalai Lama is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
The 14th Dalai Lama is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
Adolph Hitler was briefly nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1939.
Adolph Hitler was briefly nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1939.
U.S. President Woodrow Wilson won the Noble Peace Prize in 1919.
U.S. President Woodrow Wilson won the Noble Peace Prize in 1919.
Joseph Stalin was once nominated for a nobel peace prize.
Joseph Stalin was once nominated for a nobel peace prize.

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Discussion Comments


Yes obama deserves the nobel peace price because if all the leaders in this world would think and act the same way that he does, then this world would be a better place to live. He is a great leader of our country who strives for peace and global friendship.


Just because he was elected president and is not a Bush is not enough. Yes, he has tried to promote better relation between the US and other countries, but is that enough? Is that truly worthy of the peace prize? If you say yes you are a hypocrite and if you say no then you too, are a hypocrite.

Why? Because that is what the prize is for. It is “The person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses." Is this what Obama has done? Yes. Is he the person who has done the most? No. In my humble opinion, there are others who are more deserving.

If you said yes he did deserve it then you are not holding true to spirit of the NPP, if you said he did not deserve it, I would say you to are not looking objectively. He has done something to try to promote peace, but there are others who have done more.

There are a lot people and organizations more deserving of the prize than president Obama. That is what I think people see and are saying.


I didn't read all the other comments, but I think Obama did something extraordinary to win the Nobel Peace Prize: He was the president of the United States not named George Bush. He did nothing else except start the push for health care during his early months when he was earned the prize.


So tired of everyone using the "race card". I don't care for Obama as president, but it has nothing to do with the color of his skin.

A lot of talk here about "all that he has done" since he took office. Funny thing, though, no one says exactly what that is. Yes, I think he has done a lot: raised our national deficit to a astronomical amount, working hard to take away freedoms that our forefathers established, and obamacare...yeesh!

Get over it. How many people out there voted for Obama just because he is black? What would be the difference between that and not voting for someone because they are black.

We all need to look past race, and vote strictly on the issues and the integrity of the person, period.


Can someone tell me what Obama has done to deserve the Nobel Peace Prize?


*all of this is based on what I've read from the comments below.*

You all all need to give obama a break. He's barely been in office for a year and already people are jumping on his back about what he said he was going to do. Give him time! Running a country is a hard job.

He never said when he was going to do all he "promises" and he's doing a heck of a lot more than bush did in the first couple of years.


i think people should encourage world peace and people who won the nobel peace prize should take a stand and help to start more world peace organizations. anon 274738948


Obama is a great leader and deserve the Nobel. The Americans must get used to it. Obama is a mentor and a true president. And so I'm a white South African.


what are the five Nobel Prizes?


#28 yea i don't want to hear that because all whites that's all yall do is call us negroes and worse, so come on now.

obama has done more than president bush ever did. now let's get real, baby, come on now. i can do this all day cause baby just to let you know I'll keep going at your head because i know I'm right and obama made a lot of changes. just because you don't see it don't mean he's not doing something.

come on. let's all get real. it's always been about the color of our skin, but i am always 100 percent on barack obama's side because he did more than bush ever did.

and since you want to get for real, okay, if bush was a damn good president, why the hell did he just sit there and when they came in there and told him what happened to the twin towers? barack obama wouldn't have done that. come on, ya'll, let's get for real. I'm speaking nothing but the truth because i am real.

i don't know bout y'all and i pay close attention to what goes on in this world so please don't try and tell me nothing.


#17 - Get over the "black" thing. Obama is not 100 percent black. His mother was white, his mother's parents and family were all white. So he is biracial. And what does that matter anyway? If Rice or Powell had run (and they are 100 percent "black") I would have had a tough time deciding who to vote for.

Calling names such as negro? What about calling the whites "Whitey". Get real! Obama does not deserve the Nobel Peace Prize any more than Hitler did when he was nominated. Hitler was retracted, and Obama should have been too. And get off the "Bush" mess in this country. There have been many presidents who made a mess of things.

Just because you think you were promised all that free stuff from the Obama administration, you are going to get nothing more than any other white person, hispanic person, oriental person, or whatever, and so far it is a bunch of empty promises.

There seems to be a Karl Marx in this administration's background, and it has nothing to do with being "black". Get over the black thing. Get out and work, go to school and become educated, and perhaps one day you can be a Rice or Powell, and respected as much as they are.


OK, I am not a fan of our current or last president but as far as that goes he was our best choice. (Aside from my other choice)

I believe that in time he will make a huge difference in the way our country thinks and the way other countries view America as the "bad guy". He has made steps to improvement and some of you need to realize it takes time to clean up the mess we are in.

He has good intentions and I believe he will try his best to make them happen. He also has to answer to a higher source, himself, as well as the people.

I also agree with number 18 because there are others out there as well putting themselves in positions to help others and promoting peace in their actions. They also should be recognized. The one thing I do not agree with is Obama wanting to take away our right to have weapons. It is a right to the American people as stated long ago. It should stay that way.


The Nobel Peace Prize is now officially worthless.


anon 48729: You need to back up because obama has to fill very large shoes and this mess is almost impossible to clean up by the average man. i think if you have so much mouth, you clean it.


Yeah they are right and how does hitler win it but yet he made all this trouble for us and had discrimination? Obama deserved it. some people are just hating on him. stop hating the player. hate the game.


OK so i didn't sit here and read all of these posts, but from what i did read i had to stop. Barack Obama hasn't even been in office for a year and he has done more for this country than bush has done in eight years. Everyone needs to honestly give him a break. America is really in the midst of an economic and health crisis and obama is definitely doing all he can do.

In my opinion no person put in office could have accomplished everything that obama has accomplished thus far. I don't know if everyone expected everything that obama said he was going to do to happen overnight but by some of these responses i can tell that you were under that impression. I don't think there was any other president who has faced so many road blocks, so much criticism, and was put to such high standards that barack has. Barack obama did not choose to win the nobel peace prize, he was chosen. He was chosen. He was chosen. He did not choose!


Quote from #17. "now you can't tell me that Obama didn't do what he told us that he was going to do because if you say he didn't you are a liar."

That's all you got? Please list just one thing he promised and actually followed through on? Just one thing, I dare you.


So what you're saying (#19) is that we can't discuss anything that the leader of our country does wrong. That we should basically bow down to the thing he's done right? What is he hasn't made a single good decision? I'm ashamed at America for what we've become.

Also, he may not have given himself the award, but he sure did accept it. If he respected the prize at all, he would have simply rejected it. He has done nothing for peace and everyone knows it. If he had, there would be no fuss about it.

It just goes to show that the nobel peace prize means absolutely nothing. It's a big old loogey in the face of the people who've earned it in the past and to the ones who truly dedicated their lives to making peace. I hope you're as ashamed at yourself as Alfred Nobel would be right now if he were alive.


OK, I just don't understand why people are judging one another. You really can't say too much about what Obama is doing wrong. You should be looking at what he is doing right. If you're not doing anything to improve this country or anything, then your comments aren't really needed. You can talk about what other groups and companies are doing, but the question is what are you doing? So just think about this people and leave Obama alone. He didn't elect himself to get the award so calm down. If you are saying all these horrible things about him then you're not such a good person yourself. It's over and done with.


Obama hasn't done anything. He has a voice which is heard, that's about all he does. He doesn't use actions, only words. What about other organizations that are actually putting a foot forward and helping? Example: The Invisible Children. They have been doing things for years and are trying to promote peace in Africa. They are committed to it and won't stop til these families and communities are noticed and helped. There are *many* other organizations out there that are actually making a difference. They aren't just talking about doing it, they are doing something about it. The Nobel Peace Prize isn't being awarded to the deserving people that it should be.


All i can see is that Obama should get it not just because he is black because it doesn't matter what color your skin is. Obama is the president and he is trying to make this a better world so i don't understand why people don't like him. he is black -- that is one of the reasons why some people don't want him as president. Now if it was Bush, they wouldn't have anything to say but yet Bush didn't do anything for the world besides sit on his butt. Bush knew about the twin towers -- that's why he sat there and didn't get up or anything. he didn't even look like he was supprised that the twin towers collapsed. Obama is a man of his word. I just don't like Obama because he is a black man -- i like him because he is a man and a man of his word. now you can't tell me that Obama didn't do what he told us that he was going to do because if you say he didn't you are a liar. Bush said he was going to make this world a better place but he didn't do a damn thing. Obama as a person is telling us to to keep up the good work and don't let anybody slow you down. and you all are trying your best to get Obama out of the white house. You don't want him in there because he is black and the white house is called the white house. okay well, if that's the thing, change the name to the black house then, but you're so worried about the color of our skin. man, i didn't know it was all about the color of our skin but now i am older i am understanding how this world really is. Obama is trying to stop all the crimes and black on black crimes but when Bush was president he didn't give a damn if we killed each other or not. This world is no joke anymore, so i wish that you all would open your eyes and see this world for what it has became. I am 17 years old and all i want is this to be a better place and wish that people would stop judging blacks just because of our skin. we are smart just like you all. Do you know how we feel to sit around and be called negro and other names? no you don't, but a lot of people think they can call us that, well i am not the one because if you call one of those names, i will call you out your name. but now our own blacks calling each other negro and other names and stuff. come on world, open your eyes, please. Obama is doing the best he can for this world. Get over it people. obama is the president whether you like it or not. Stop looking for fault in the man. let him do his job and give him a chance. People have been saying ugly things ever since he was elected. this is a crazy world now.


Obama does deserve the peace prize. As far as helping Hispanics, White, Black, Asian whatever, the man just got in office. He has eight years -- count them eight years -- of Dipstick George Bush crap to clean up. Give the man a minute to breathe and what are you doing to help your culture, race or that of another? Stop speaking out of the side of your neck and open your eyes. This man has worked his whole life for peace at home and internationally and change for all Americans. He passed the first major ethics reform in 25 years, cut taxes for working families, and expanded health care for children and their parents. As a senator, he reached across the aisle to pass groundbreaking lobbying reform, lock up the world's most dangerous weapons, and bring transparency to government by putting federal spending online. Now, he's thigh deep in cleaning up international relations that the "Good Ole' Boy Bush" trashed. You do the math! It ain't rocket science. According to the definition of the peace prize and Jimmy Carter won it too: "The prize can be awarded for current efforts, rather than for having accomplished a goal or resolved an issue."


everyone is just saying obama is making everything worse, but if bush had done the right thing in the beginning it wouldn't be so hard for obama. and that's a fact.


obama deserved the peace prize! so be quiet.


This is funny because, if it was president bush, you would say the same terrible things you will not say about obama. Obama is a joke. It is tough trying to be in charge as president. Not everyone will like the current president or have the same views. Just as before. But obama has no clue about our foundation in america. He wants to change everything to control people's lives and become a one world government. He does not care about anyone, let alone this country. Unless it is exactly the way this current office holds. When obama opens up his mouth all i hear is rattling on and on what he is going to do. When really, he is lying lying lying. He is a socialist and will run this country in the ground, and it will be his way or the highway, no matter the cost. Lord help us.


It doesn't matter who won it. Just get over it and suck it up!


The recent award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Barack Obama has, predictably, been bucketed from some quarters, mostly from the “born-to-rule” right but also from the “all-or-nothing” left. Much of the criticism has been based on the notion that the prize must always been seen as an award for lifetime achievement. The actual terms of Alfred Nobel’s will provide a focus for the Prize on recognizing current efforts toward, among other things, “fraternity between nations”. In a short time, Mr. Obama has done much to increase the “fraternity” between the United States and other nations. During the administration of Mr. Obama’s predecessor, the United States was increasingly resented by much of the rest of the world. Even in countries that are traditional allies of the United States, such as Australia, there was a growing sense that, to be properly “pro” one’s own country, one had to be a least a little bit anti-American. As a US-born Australian, I was personally very conscious of this attitude. By improving the level of “fraternity” between his own country and the rest of the world, Mr. Obama is an appropriate choice for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.


It doesn't matter that he was elected president. that doesn't really have anything to do with the reason he won the prize. From what I have heard he was very active working toward world peace before even being elected president. That is the criteria that was met. Hope this helps


he doesn't deserve it because he said he will do something for the hispanic people and he hasn't done a pip. all of you that are reading this, tell me does he deserve it? i don't think so.


Get over it people. obama is the president whether you like it or not. Stop looking for fault in the man. let him do his job and give him a chance. People have been saying ugly things ever since he was elected. So what if he was nominated? well he won the presidency and the nobel peace prize. i say good for obama.


So I just don't understand why President Obama got this award.


Is this prize awarded for what one has done, or what the committee hopes they will do? In this current prize consideration, Barack Obama what nominated just two weeks after he took the oath of office. The criteria cited by the committee was for fostering world diplomacy and nuclear arms reduction- neither of which was he actively involved in achieving prior to taking office.


How are the nominees chosen?

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