It was announced earlier this afternoon in the Norwegian capital, Oslo that this year’s Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to US President Barack Obama.
The head of the Nobel Committee is Norwegian Thorbjorn Jagland, the newly elected head of the European Council. When asked why the award went to Obama, he told the BBC: “”It was because we would like to support what he is trying to achieve. It is a clear signal that we want to advocate the same as he has done.”
The newly elected President is praised for adopting a peaceful and reconciliatory tone on the global stage and the Nobel Committee hopes the recognition will help him in bringing peace to troubled regions, including Israel, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Meanwhile, peace campaigners around the world, including in all the Nordic countries, criticised the decision. They argue that vastly increasing troop numbers in Afghanistan and ‘seriously thinking about’ withdrawing from Iraq should not qualify a President for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Moderate voices among the critics, including Swedish Social Democrat press spokesman Urban Ahlin, contest that Obama could make a good Nobel Peace Prize candidate, but that this year is too early to tell. “I’d like to have seen Obama get the peace prize in a few years when he can show the results of his efforts. Now is too early,” he told The Local.
The winner of the Nobel Prize receives a gold medal, a diploma and SEK 10 million. The Peace Prize is the only Nobel Prize not awarded in Sweden. Instead it is decided by a committee appointed by the Norwegian parliament. Alfred Nobel felt the Peace Prize would be more neutral if awarded by Norway, because at the time of his death Norway and Sweden were still in union, but Sweden controlled all foreign policy.
The award ceremony takes place on 10th December each year, which is the anniversary of Nobel’s death.