Nobel Peace Prize Has Long History

Posted October 6th, 2011 at 11:20 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awards the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday. But when the winner of the prestigious award is announced, he or she will join a large group of well known and sometimes controversial recipients.

The Nobel Prizes were created by Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite. However, the invention he thought would end all wars was seen by many others as an extremely deadly product. Not wanting to go down in history with such the horrible epitaph, “merchant of death,” he established the famous awards to recognize excellence in medicine, physics, chemistry, literature and economics, as well as the highly coveted Nobel Peace Prize. The winners also receive a large cash award.

The first Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in 1901, five years after Alfred Nobel's death. It was split between two men, Jean Henri Dunant of Switzerland, founder of the International Red Cross and Frenchman Frederic Passy, founder of the first French peace society.

While Peace Prize recipients have all made major contributions, some of the Academy's decisions have been controversial. Last year's Peace Prize was awarded to jailed activist Liu Xiaobo of China, for his long, non-violent struggle for human rights in his country. However,Chinese authorities refused worldwide requests to release him, and pressured unsuccessfully for a global boycott of the ceremony in Oslo, Norway.

Other recipients of the Peace Prize this century include U.S. President Barack Obama in 2009, former Vice President Al Gore in 2007 and former President Jimmy Carter in 2002. In 2001 the prize was split between the United Nations and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.