Obama Wins The Nobel Peace Prize
The Nobel Peace Prize 2009
The Norwegian Nobel Committee Has Decided That The Nobel Peace Prize For 2009 Is To Be Awarded To President Barack Obama For His Extraordinary Efforts To Strengthen International Diplomacy And Cooperation Between Peoples.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee
The Nobel Peace Prize for 2009
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama's vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.
Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama's initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.
Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population.
For 108 years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to stimulate precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which Obama is now the world's leading spokesman. The Committee endorses Obama's appeal that "Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges."
Oslo, October 9, 2009
(AP) OSLO — The Norwegian Nobel Committee says U.S. President Barack Obama has won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize for "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
OSLO (AP) — Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Colombian senator Piedad Cordoba and Chinese dissident Hu Jia are among the favorites to win the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, Norwegian national broadcaster NRK reported Friday.
French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt and Afghan woman's rights activist Simi Samar also are possible candidates for the prestigious prize, NRK said, about an hour before the Norwegian Nobel committee was set to announce the prize at 11 a.m. (0900GMT).
As always, the five-member Norwegian Nobel Committee has remained tightlipped about its decision, which it made earlier this week, but will unveil its choice Friday. A record 205 nominations were received this year.
"We've had all the meetings we're going to have, and done what we needed to do," the committee's nonvoting secretary Geir Lundestad told The Associated Press Thursday.
British bookmaker Ladbrokes and its Irish counterpart, PaddyPower, give the best odds to imprisoned Hu, Cordoba, Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan, and Samar.
Hu, a human rights activist and an outspoken critic of the Chinese government, was sentenced last year to a three-and-a-half-year prison term for "inciting subversion of state power" ahead of the Beijing Olympics. He also was a favorite for the prize last year, when the 10 million kronor ($1.4 million) award went to Finland's ex-president Martti Ahtisaari for decades of work as a peace mediator.
Kristian Berg Harpviken, the director of the Peace Research Institute, Oslo, said he favored Cordoba, who leads Colombians for Peace, an organization whose aim is to facilitate peace negotiations between the government and the country's leftist FARC guerrillas.
Cordoba is a polarizing figure in Colombia owing to her close relations with Venezuela's leftist president, Hugo Chavez, and her criticisms of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe's government as an illegitimate "mafia state" that came to power with the help of right-wing death squads.
Despite that polemical status, she has been at the forefront of efforts to peacefully end her country's half-century-old conflict, which is rooted in deep social divisions. She was nominated by Adolfo Perez Esquivel, an Argentine who won the peace prize in 1980 and is a fierce critic of Uribe.
Guesses from the Peace Research Institute — an annual ritual — have become the cornerstone of world Nobel Peace Prize speculation. However, institute officials admit they have no inside information, and they rarely predict the winner.
Harpviken also mentioned bin Muhammad, a philosophy professor in Jordan who advocates interfaith dialogue in the Middle East, a region shot through with sectarian violence, and Samar. She currently leads the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission and serves as the U.N. special envoy to Darfur.
He said he thought this year's award would go toward making "an impact on evolving processes" — such as armed conflict resolution — with the hope of encouraging their continuation.
In his 1895 will, Alfred Nobel stipulated that the peace prize should go "to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations and the abolition or reduction of standing armies and the formation and spreading of peace congresses."
Unlike the other Nobel Prizes, which are awarded by Swedish institutions, he said the peace prize should be given out by a five-member committee elected by the Norwegian Parliament. Sweden and Norway were united under the same crown at the time of Nobel's death.
The committee has taken a wide interpretation of Nobel's guidelines, expanding the prize beyond peace mediation to include efforts to combat poverty, disease and climate change. Some experts believe the committee will turn to human rights this year, because it hasn't picked a human rights activist since tapping Iranian lawyer Shirin Ebadi for the prize in 2003.
"Twenty years since Tiananmen Square? Maybe a Chinese?" said Dan Smith, of the London-based International Alert peace group.
Emerging superpower China remains deeply sensitive about criticism of its bloody 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters at Tiananmen Square. And awarding dissidents would be a major poke-in-the-eye in the year the communist regime, established 60 years ago, celebrates its diamond jubilee.
The committee is famous for making grand symbolic gestures aimed at influencing the world agenda, as in 1989 when, in the wake of the Tiananmen massacre, the prize went to the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.
Although most of the buzz this year surrounds Hu, another candidate could be Wei Jingsheng, who spent 17 years in Chinese prisons for urging reforms of China's communist system. He now lives in the United States.
Harpviken told journalists last week that he was skeptical of suggestions that a dissident of any nationality might win the prize this year. He noted that Nobel committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland, who just ended a four-year term as president of Norway's parliament, was elected secretary general of the Council of Europe on Sept. 29.
Harpviken said he believes Jagland's connection to both the Norwegian government and a major pan-European organization will make the committee "careful" about who it chooses, hoping to avoid a public debate about its political independence. He also suggested that Jagland might want to avoid complicating his five-year term at the helm of the Council of Europe.
"It would be hard to think that it hasn't had an impact" on the deliberation process, Harpviken said.
Jan Egeland, director of Oslo's Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, said he nominated Denis Mukwege, a physician in war-torn Congo who opened a clinic to help rape victims.
"He is working for the people in the biggest war," he said. "Sometimes the committee has to address the biggest wars."
Associated Press Writer Libardo Cardona in Bogota contributed to this report.
On the Net:
By Garance Franke-Ruta
Updated 10:25 a.m.
A surprising unanimity of opinion is emerging online that the award has been given to Obama prematurely -- and that this both poses a potential danger to his presidency and will serve as a challenge to the credibility of the Nobel-awarding committee in Oslo.
At Time magazine, Nancy Gibbs argues, "The last thing Barack Obama needed at this moment in his presidency and our politics is a prize for a promise."
Tweets ABC News's Jake Tapper, referring to an earlier controversy in Obama's presidency: "apparently the standards are more exacting for an ASU honorary degree these days."
(An Arizona State University spokesperson in April explained a decision to invite the president to give the commencement address without also giving him an honorary degree by saying, "His body of work is yet to come. That's why we're not recognizing him with a degree at the beginning of his presidency.")
The Post's David Ignatius also weighs in, explaining that the prize validates America's return to popularity in the court of world opinion: "The Nobel Peace Prize award to Barack Obama seems so goofy -- even if you're a fan, you have to admit that he hasn't really done much yet as a peacemaker. But there's an aspect of this prize that is real and important -- and that validates Obama's strategy from the day he took office.... America was too unpopular under Bush. The Nobel committee is expressing a collective sigh of relief that America has rejoined the global consensus. They're right. It's a good thing. It's just a little weird that they gave him a prize for it."
Updated 10:02 a.m.
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has released a statement calling the award into question:
"The real question Americans are asking is, 'What has President Obama actually accomplished?' It is unfortunate that the president's star power has outshined tireless advocates who have made real achievements working towards peace and human rights. One thing is certain - President Obama won't be receiving any awards from Americans for job creation, fiscal responsibility, or backing up rhetoric with concrete action."
Updated 9 a.m.
Syria is reacting warmly to the announcement, the Wall Street Journalreports:
"I believe Obama is working hard for peace," said Muhammad Habash, a Syrian member of parliament and director of the Islamic Studies Center in Damascus. "We in Syria believe that Obama's initiative have been suitable, and that Syria is now witnessing important steps to correct the relationship with the United States. I believe everyone here will be very happy for Obama."
Updated 8:36 a.m.
President Obama will speak from the Rose Garden at 10:30 a.m., the White House announced. He is expected to address the topic of the Nobel award.
Updated 8:14 a.m.
More international reactions can be found over at The Lede. Among them:
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangarai of Zimbabwe, who had been among the favorites to win this year, told Reuters: "I wish to congratulate President Obama. I think he is a deserving candidate."
The Reuters roundup of world opinion, including from the Arab world,can be read here.
Updated 7:55 a.m.
Blake Hounshell of Foreign Policy magazine notes that "the Committee has been awarding these 'aspirational' prizes for years." For more on this topic, see Ronald R. Krebs's July 30 Foreign Policy article, "The Dangerous Prize."
Updated 7:49 a.m.
The Post's Juliet Eilperin reports that environmentalists are greeting the news with hopes that President Obama will go straight from Oslo to Copenhagen for climate talks in December, now that it looks like he will be in that part of the world -- just as Gore did in 2007. Climate talks start Dec. 7, and the Nobel will be awarded Dec. 10.
"We congratulate President Obama on winning the Nobel Peace prize," said Keya Chatterjee, director of climate change for WWF-US in a statement. "Now that we know President Obama will be in Scandinavia in December, expectations are even higher that he will attend the Copenhagen climate summit in person to usher in a fair, ambitious and binding climate agreement."
Updated 7:42 a.m.
Obama senior adviser David Axelrod tells MSNBC, "It's an honor, certainly nothing that anyone expected, certainly not the president himself."
Asked if Obama would accept the award in person, Axelrod said it was too early to say. "This is all news to us, so I don't know what we're going to do. I would assume so. The point is to rededicate ourselves to the causes that the president has brought forth," he said.
Probed on how conservatives appear, as Mark Halperin put it, as excited about this as they were disappointed Chicago didn't get the Olympics, Axelrod replied, "I would hope that everybody would view this is an affirmation of some very important causes for which we should all be dedicated."
Updated 7:34 a.m.
The Post's Howard Schneider reports from Israel:
In Israel, where raised expectations have been followed by little tangible progress, there was surprise from both sides of the spectrum.
"We congratulate him for this," said Ahmed Yousef, deputy foreign minister of Hamas, the Islamist group that runs the Gaza Strip and which remains isolated by the U.S. from peace talks because of its refusal to recognize Israel. But "we believe he has been rewarded or judged based on good intentions towards peace but not on his achievement. It was too early to award him. He has not don't that much yet."
Danny Danon, a member of the Israeli Knesset from the ruling Likud Party who has been critical of Obama's efforts to force Israel to freeze construction of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, also said the new U.S. president is being rewarded for a relatively thin list of accomplishments.
"This is the first time the award is given for wishful thinking," Danon said.
Hagit Ofran, head of the anti-settlement program for the Israel's Peace Now movement, said that while Obama's involvement in the Middle East has yet to produce a dramatic breakthrough, his election has still changed the dynamic.
She said it is unlikely that current Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would have endorsed creation of a Palestinian state, or that he would consider curbs on Israeli settlement construction without a push from the U.S.
"All we hear is 'this is not possible, the Palestinians will not agree,' or 'this is not possible, the Israelis will not agree,'" she said. "He is being respected for his belief and determination to get things going. It is not peace and it is not enough, but his rhetoric did change many things."
Updated 7:30 a.m.
More news and reaction from the mediasphere streaming across Twitter:
Good Morning America: "'Both thought they were being punk'd'- @GStephanopoulos on two WH aides hearing of Nobel news."
Alan S. Murray: "Can someone explain? I thought award was for accomplishments, not intentions."
Jeffrey Goldberg: "It might be smart for Obama to turn this prize down, at least until he achieves peace somewhere. Or trade for Olympics"
Karen Tumulty: "guy with big check at door may have been less of a surprise today"
Ana Marie Cox: "Apparently Nobel prizes now being awarded to anyone who is not George Bush."
Marc Ambinder: "I bet this wil be CW amng Dems: RT @AdamSerwer: No joke obama should turn the nobel peace prize down until he's finished with his two wars."
Updated 7:12 a.m.
CNN reports, "After the president was awakened and told he had won, he said he was humbled to be selected, according to an administration official."
Updated 7:09 a.m.
Not happy with the selection of Obama for the award? The Taliban.
Reports the AFP:
"We have seen no change in his strategy for peace. He has done nothing for peace in Afghanistan. He has not taken a single step for peace in Afghanistan or to make this country stable," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP.
"We condemn the award of the Noble Peace Prize for Obama," he said by telephone from an undisclosed location. "We condemn the institute's awarding him the peace prize. We condemn this year's peace prize as unjust."
Updated 6:54 a.m.
Bloomberg's Jones Hayden reports on reaction from the EU Commission:
European Commission President Jose Barroso said the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Barack Obama is "a tribute to President Obama's commitment to the values of peace and progress of humanity."
The award is "a reflection of the hopes that he has raised globally with his vision of a world without nuclear weapons," Barroso said in a note of "warm congratulations" to Obama, Pia Ahrenkilde-Hansen, a commission spokeswoman, told reporters in Brussels today. "This award is an encouragement for engagement by all those who can contribute to bring about a safer world."
Updated 6:49 a.m.
In the United States, the Twitterati appear perplexed by the selection of their first-year, first-term president for so august an honor.
Jacob Weisberg: "Aren't you supposed to do something for peace BEFORE winning the prize?"
Mickey Kaus: "Instant advice for Obama re: Nobel Peace Prize: Turn it down! It's win/win."
Kaus elaborates on his blog, warning, "the possibility for a Nobel backlash seems non-farfetched."
Updated 6:41 a.m.
Obama's family in Kenya reacts:
The Kenyan family of US President Barack Obama say they were honoured by the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to their favourite son.
"It is an honour to the family... we are very happy that one of us has been honoured. We congratulate Barack," Said Obama, the president's step-brother, told AFP.
Said said that the awarding of the prize to Obama "touches many people" because the US president represents "people from different walks of life."
Updated 6:33 a.m.
Reaction is starting to roll in from abroad. The AFP reports:
The Nobel Peace Prize won by US President Barack Obama on Friday should prompt him to start working toward ending injustice in the world, an aide to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told AFP.
"We hope that this gives him the incentive to walk in the path of bringing justice to the world order," said Ali Akbar Javanfekr, Ahmadinejad's media aide.
"We are not upset and we hope that by receiving this prize he will start taking practical steps to remove injustice in the world."
The AFP also reports on reaction from Afghanistan:
KABUL -- Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai said Friday that US President Barack Obama was the "appropriate" person to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
"We congratulate Obama for winning the Nobel," said Siamak Hirai, a spokesman for Karzai.
"His hard work and his new vision on global relations, his will and efforts for creating friendly and good relations at global level and global peace make him the appropriate recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize," he told AFP.
CBS's Mark Knoller reports this initial White House reaction:
Spokesman Robert Gibbs e-mails one word: "wow."
U.S. President Barack Obama will receive the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize for his work toward a nuclear-weapons free world and a more-inclusive style of diplomacy.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee cited Obama's "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples" as the rationale for giving the U.S. president its highest honor after just nine months in office.
The award announcement comes at a time when Obama's popularity in public opinion polls has begun to stabilize after a steep drop and his domestic policies led to raucous protests. The White House was the target this week of anti-war protesters demanding Obama withdraw troops from Afghanistan and Iraq.
Just last week Obama was given an international rebuke when his high-profile attempt to convince the International Olympic Committee to award the 2016 Olympics to Chicago failed. Chicago lost in the first round of voting that ended up giving the Olympics to Rio de Janeiro.
But the Nobel committee said Obama's grander vision for the world merited its attention.
"His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population," the committee said.
He is the third sitting U.S. president selected to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Teddy Roosevelt was so honored in 1906 and Woodrow Wilson won in 1919. Jimmy Carter was out of office when he won the 2002 Peace Prize.
The Nobel Peace Prize includes $1.4 million, a gold medal and certificate. The award is to be formally presented Dec. 10.
Barack Obama is in good company: Nelson Mandela, Albert Schweitzer, Martin Luther King and former US president Teddy Roosevelt. All have won Nobel peace prizes in the award's (sometimes controversial) 108 year history.
The first African American to hold the US's highest office, Obama has called for disarmament and attempted – so far without success – to restart the stalled Middle East peace process. He is currently considering whether to increase troop numbers in Afghanistan where the US is mired in an eight-year-old conflict.
The choice of Obama for the prize from a field of more than 200 candidates astounded international commentators, in part because he took office less than two weeks before the February nomination deadline.
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary | For Immediate Release | October 9, 2009
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON WINNING THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE
11:16 A.M. EDT
Good morning. Well, this is not how I expected to wake up this morning. After I received the news, Malia walked in and said, "Daddy, you won the Nobel Peace Prize, and it is Bo's birthday!" And then Sasha added, "Plus, we have a three-day weekend coming up." So it's good to have kids to keep things in perspective.
I am both surprised and deeply humbled by the decision of the Nobel Committee. Let me be clear: I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations.
To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who've been honored by this prize -- men and women who've inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.
But I also know that this prize reflects the kind of world that those men and women, and all Americans, want to build -- a world that gives life to the promise of our founding documents. And I know that throughout history, the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it's also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes. And that is why I will accept this award as a call to action -- a call for all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st century.
These challenges can't be met by any one leader or any one nation. And that's why my administration has worked to establish a new era of engagement in which all nations must take responsibility for the world we seek. We cannot tolerate a world in which nuclear weapons spread to more nations and in which the terror of a nuclear holocaust endangers more people. And that's why we've begun to take concrete steps to pursue a world without nuclear weapons, because all nations have the right to pursue peaceful nuclear power, but all nations have the responsibility to demonstrate their peaceful intentions.
We cannot accept the growing threat posed by climate change, which could forever damage the world that we pass on to our children -- sowing conflict and famine; destroying coastlines and emptying cities. And that's why all nations must now accept their share of responsibility for transforming the way that we use energy.
We can't allow the differences between peoples to define the way that we see one another, and that's why we must pursue a new beginning among people of different faiths and races and religions; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect.
And we must all do our part to resolve those conflicts that have caused so much pain and hardship over so many years, and that effort must include an unwavering commitment that finally realizes that the rights of all Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace and security in nations of their own.
We can't accept a world in which more people are denied opportunity and dignity that all people yearn for -- the ability to get an education and make a decent living; the security that you won't have to live in fear of disease or violence without hope for the future.
And even as we strive to seek a world in which conflicts are resolved peacefully and prosperity is widely shared, we have to confront the world as we know it today. I am the Commander-in-Chief of a country that's responsible for ending a war and working in another theater to confront a ruthless adversary that directly threatens the American people and our allies. I'm also aware that we are dealing with the impact of a global economic crisis that has left millions of Americans looking for work. These are concerns that I confront every day on behalf of the American people.
Some of the work confronting us will not be completed during my presidency. Some, like the elimination of nuclear weapons, may not be completed in my lifetime. But I know these challenges can be met so long as it's recognized that they will not be met by one person or one nation alone. This award is not simply about the efforts of my administration -- it's about the courageous efforts of people around the world.
And that's why this award must be shared with everyone who strives for justice and dignity -- for the young woman who marches silently in the streets on behalf of her right to be heard even in the face of beatings and bullets; for the leader imprisoned in her own home because she refuses to abandon her commitment to democracy; for the soldier who sacrificed through tour after tour of duty on behalf of someone half a world away; and for all those men and women across the world who sacrifice their safety and their freedom and sometime their lives for the cause of peace.
That has always been the cause of America. That's why the world has always looked to America. And that's why I believe America will continue to lead.
Thank you very much.