The Nobel Peace Prize History
Alfred Nobel’s Will
On November 27, 1895, Alfred Nobel signed his third and last will at the Swedish-Norwegian Club in Paris. When it was opened and read after his death, the will caused a lot of controversy both in Sweden and internationally, as Nobel had left much of his wealth for the establishment of a prize. His family opposed the establishment of the Nobel Prize, and the prize awarders he named refused to do what he had requested in his will. It was five years before the first Nobel Prize could be awarded in 1901.
The Establishment of the Nobel Prize
In this excerpt of the will, Alfred Nobel dictates that his entire remaining estate should be used to endow “prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind.”
“The whole of my remaining realizable estate shall be dealt with in the following way: the capital, invested in safe securities by my executors, shall constitute a fund, the interest on which shall be annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind. The said interest shall be divided into five equal parts, which shall be apportioned as follows: one part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery or invention within the field of physics; one part to the person who shall have made the most important chemical discovery or improvement; one part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery within the domain of physiology or medicine; one part to the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction; and one part 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. The prizes for physics and chemistry shall be awarded by the Swedish Academy of Sciences; that for physiology or medical works by the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm; that for literature by the Academy in Stockholm, and that for champions of peace by a committee of five persons to be elected by the Norwegian Storting. It is my express wish that in awarding the prizes no consideration be given to the nationality of the candidates, but that the most worthy shall receive the prize, whether he be Scandinavian or not.”
The Peace Prize has been Awarded to 134 Nobel Laureates since 1901
“The said interest shall be divided into five equal parts, which shall be apportioned as follows: /- – -/ one part to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”
(Excerpt from the will of Alfred Nobel)
Alfred Nobel was interested in social issues and was engaged in the peace movement. His acquaintance with Bertha von Suttner (who was later awarded the 1905 Nobel Peace Prize) influenced his own views on peace. Perhaps his peace interest was also because his inventions were used in warfare and assassination attempts? Peace was the fifth and final prize area that Nobel mentioned in his will.
Announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize
The Peace Prize Laureates are announced in October every year. Earlier the same day, the members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee selects the Nobel Laureates through a majority vote. The decision is final and without appeal. The names of the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates are then announced at a press conference.
10 December – The Nobel Prize Award Ceremony
The Nobel Laureates take center stage in Stockholm on 10 December, when they receive the Nobel Medal, Nobel Diploma and a document confirming the Nobel Prize amount from King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden.
In Oslo, the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates receive their Nobel Peace Prize from the Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee in the presence of King Harald V of Norway. An important part is the presentation of the Nobel Lectures by the Nobel Laureates. In Stockholm, the lectures are presented days before the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony. In Oslo, the Nobel Laureates deliver their lectures during the Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony.
Number of Nobel Peace Prizes
100 Nobel Peace Prizes have been awarded to 134 Nobel Laureates since 1901 (107 individuals and 27 organisations). It was not awarded on 19 occasions: in 1914-1918, 1923, 1924, 1928, 1932, 1939- 1943, 1948, 1955-1956, 1966-1967 and 1972.
Why were the Peace Prizes not awarded in those years? In the statutes of the Nobel Foundation it says: “If none of the works under consideration is found to be of the importance indicated in the first paragraph, the prize money shall be reserved until the following year. If, even then, the prize cannot be awarded, the amount shall be added to the Foundation’s restricted funds.” During World War I and II, fewer Nobel Prizes were awarded.
Why a Norwegian Nobel Committee for the Nobel Peace Prize?
All Nobel Prizes are awarded in Stockholm, Sweden, except for the Nobel Peace Prize, which is awarded in Oslo, Norway. The founder of the Nobel Prize, Alfred Nobel, was a Swedish cosmopolitan. In his will, he declared that the Nobel Peace Prize should be awarded by a Norwegian committee. When Alfred Nobel was alive, Norway and Sweden were united under one monarch, until 1905 when Norway became an independent kingdom.
Female Nobel Peace Prize Laureates
Of the 107 individuals awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, 17 are women. The first time a Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to a woman was in 1905, to Bertha von Suttner.
1905 – Bertha von Suttner
1931 – Jane Addams
1946 – Emily Greene Balch
1976 – Betty Williams
1976 – Mairead Corrigan
1979 – Mother Teresa
1982 – Alva Myrdal
1991 – Aung San Suu Kyi
1992 – Rigoberta Menchú Tum
1997 – Jody Williams
2003 – Shirin Ebadi
2004 – Wangari Maathai
2011 – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman
2014 – Malala Yousafzai
2018 – Nadia Murad