Nobel Peace Prize
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What is the Nobel Prize?
The Nobel Prize is the brainchild of Alfred Nobel, a Swedish chemist who was best known in his lifetime for his invention of dynamite. Upon his death in 1896, a reading of his will revealed stipulations that over 90% of his estate should be used to establish prizes in five categories: physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and peace.
Many wonder why Nobel established the Nobel Prize. It has often been assumed that he sought to make restitution for creating dynamite.
Nobel did catch a glimpse of a French obituary for himself when his brother died and a French newspaper thought Nobel had died. Among other colorful terms, the newspapers called Alfred Nobel a “merchant of death.” Thus the restitution to reward the positive aspects of the world remains the popular theory on the establishment of the Nobel Prize.
Alfred Nobel died in 1896. The first Nobel Prize was awarded in 1901.
Nobel stipulated exactly how the prizes should be determined, and what bodies should be responsible for selecting and awarding prizes.
According to Nobel’s will, the Swedish Academy of Science was to award a yearly Nobel Prize in Physics and Chemistry. The Caroline Institute at Stockholm would award the Nobel Prize for medicine. The Academy of Stockholm would determine the Nobel Prize for literature. Five members selected by the Norwegian government select the recipient of the annual Peace Prize. The Peace Prize is awarded in Oslo, Norway, while the other Nobel Prizes are awarded in Stockholm, Sweden. Each award was to be given without regard to nationality, and was meant to represent the best and brightest contributors to each field.
Some confusion exists over a sixth category, the Nobel Prize in Economics. This is not technically a Nobel Prize because it was not listed in Nobel’s will, and it does use Nobel’s foundation to award funds. This award was established in 1969 and is awarded by the Swedish Academy of Sciences. Monies awarded come from the Bank of Sweden.
Typically the Nobel Prize means one wins a medal, international recognition, and a sum of money for ongoing work in one’s field. Often the money is not greatly important since people receiving the award tend to be at the end of their careers. Currently, those receiving the Prize may receive a little over one million US dollars (USD).
Since the Prize’s establishment, over 750 awards have been given. The Nobel Prize tends not to be awarded posthumously, which has met with some controversy. Some of the recipients of the award have also been criticized. For example, Mahatma Gandhi never won the Nobel Peace Prize despite his sterling efforts to promote non-violent protests and fair government in India .
What is the Nobel Peace Prize?
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 Nobel Peace 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.
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 Nobel Peace Prize, as did Henry Kissinger and Mikhail Gorbachev. Due to the practice of awarding the Nobel Peace 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
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 Nobel Peace Prize 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 Nobel Peace Prize as being politically slanted to the left and failing to recognize true merit, but even with past controversy, the Nobel Peace Prize continues to be an astute recognition that few would decline to accept.