The Vision of the Nobel Peace Prize put to test

Ekaterina Volozova

BEIJING—(October 14, 2010) — During his lifetime, Alfred Nobel wrote several wills. One of such will made him famous – his very last will, dated November 27, 1895. The will made his name so well-known around the globe. He left approximately 94 percent of his establishment for the funding of five prizes in different areas. Those subjects were physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and peace. According to him, he did for “those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind.”

The Nobel Peace Prize, which was the last category mentioned, has been awarded 91 times to 121 Nobel Laureates between 1901 and 2010 – 98 times to individuals and 23 times to various organizations. It was supposed to be awarded “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.”

The first ever awarded Nobel Peace Prize was divided equally among two people- Jean Henri Dunant, who founded the International Committee of the Red Cross, and Frederic Passy, Founder and President of the first French peace society. ICRC is an organization today that needs no introduction, and has been of great aid to many throughout the twentieth century. The name of the second organization speaks for itself. Some of the other most famous winners of the prize include Mother Theresa, for leading the Order of the Missionaries of Charity, Martin Luther King Jr., for campaigning civil rights for African Americans in the United States. Many of those who received a Nobel Peace Prize were people who fought for peace and “fraternity between nations”, as it was stated in the original will. However in recent years, there have been many debates over the people that received this award.

In 2009, United States President Barack Obama was awarded The Nobel Peace Prize for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples,” according to the official Nobel Prize website. There was a stir in the media last year, when the President got this award. According to a poll taken in United States, 61 percent of Americans think that the award should not have been given. Many articles also expressed opinion that the Nobel Peace Prize for Barack Obama was “inappropriate and untimely”, according to digitaljournal.com, and “stirs praise and doubts,” reported the New York Times. Last year’s award, as it turned out, caused many controversies and stirred many questions in the media.

This year, there were also quite a lot of debates on the Nobel Prize Winner, Liu Xiaobo. According to the Nobel Prize committee, he was awarded “for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.” However the amount of problems and hostility this has caused around the World in the past few days can question whether this was truly something that helps to promote “fraternity between nations”. Liu Xiaobo has been causing quite a lot of commotion in China over the past years, urging China to go in a different direction and follow the path of the West, and overlooking the fact of how much development has occurred in the country over the past three decades and how quickly this has happened. “His actions are diametrically opposed to the aims of the Nobel prize”, said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu.

Moreover, Ma said in a statement that the award would damage Sino-Norway relations, according to News24.com. The question that remains is: if this award has caused such a stir and so much questioning around the World – can it really be considered something that promotes peace and fraternity among nations anymore?

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