Nobel Peace Prize: How the winner is chosen and other curiosities


Since the first Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in 1901, the award is the one that generates more debate at the political level, since not always the chosen person is liked by everyone, as happened in 2009 when the winner was the president American, Barack Obama, who had not been in the White House for a year.

The designation of the winner is done after a long process that begins one year before the official announcement. The secret that surrounds the candidacies is total, at least on the part of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which is in charge of choosing the winner, although those who present the proposals usually make them public in some cases. However, after 50 years you can meet.

Nobel Peace Prize: How the winner is chosen and other curiosities
Nobel Peace Prize: How the winner is chosen and other curiosities

For a candidate to be valid, it must be submitted by members of national assemblies and governments; members of international courts; university rectors, professors of social sciences, history, philosophy, law and theology or directors of peace research institutes and foreign policy institutes.

So can people or organizations that have already received the award, as well as current or former members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee or former advisors to it. Thus, in no case can a candidate's proposal be made by an ordinary citizen.

There is no specific form to present a candidacy, although these must include at least the name of the candidate, an explanation of why that person or organization is considered worthy of receiving the award and the name, title and academic or professional affiliation of who submits the application This information can be sent in two ways, by regular postal mail or by email.


Those responsible for receiving and electing candidates are the five members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee. These are elected by the Norwegian Parliament and usually reflect the distribution of political forces in it.

The deadline for the reception of applications opens in September and closes on February 1, although applications that come later but have been submitted before that date are accepted. Between February and March, the Committee reviews the applications received and makes a first screening, reducing the names to about 20 or 30.

Between March and August, the Committee's advisors – university professors with extensive experience in the field – analyze the remaining applications in detail and prepare a report. Sometimes, information is also requested from foreign organizations.

At the beginning of October, after having thoroughly analyzed the applications and even asking for additional information, the Norwegian Nobel Committee meets to choose the winner. In general, the choice is made unanimously, but if not possible, a simple majority is used, after which the announcement is made.


– The Nobel Peace Prize is the only one of the awards granted for the will left by Alfred Nobel that is not delivered in Stockholm but is delivered in Oslo.

– Since 1901, when it was first granted, it has not been delivered on 19 occasions: during the First World War (1914-1916 and 1918), in 1923, 1924, 1928 and 1932; during World War II (1939-1943), in 1948, 1955-1956, 1966-1967 and in 1972.

– To date, 99 prizes have been awarded to a total of 133 winners. The winners in 2018 were Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege and Yazidi activist Nadia Murad.

– On 30 of the occasions the prize was shared by two winners.

– Only twice has the prize been awarded simultaneously to three people. The first time was in 1994 when the winners were the Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat; Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres; and the Israeli prime minister, Isaac Rabin. The last occasion was in 2011 and the winners were the president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf; Liberian women's rights activist and advocate Leymah Gbowee, and Yemeni activist and pacifist Tawakkol Karman.

– The award has fallen 27 times during its history in organizations. These include the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which has received it three times (1917, 1944 and 1963) and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which has received it twice (1954 and 1981).

– To date, a total of 17 women have received it, the last of them activist Murad in 2018.

– The average age of the winners is 62 years. In 2014, Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai became the youngest to receive a Nobel Prize in the history of the award in all its categories, receiving it with only 17 years. For his part, the oldest recipient is the British pacifist Joseph Rotblat, who was 87 when he received it in 1995.

– In the 118 years of history, only one of the winners has declined the award. The North Vietnamese Le Duc Tho was awarded in 1973 together with the US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, for negotiating the peace agreement. The chief negotiator of the Communist Government of North Vietnam rejected the award because he considered that his American counterpart had not respected the truce that both had agreed.

– Three of the winners were imprisoned when they were awarded: the pacifist and journalist Carl von Ossietzky in 1935; Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in 1991 and, more recently, Chinese Human Rights activist Liu Xiaobo, in 2010.

– Only one of the winners was posthumously. This is UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld, who died a month before the award was announced in a plane crash in North Rodhesia. As of 1974, the statutes of the Nobel Foundation stipulate that posthumous awards cannot be given.

– Among the names of the nominees but who never received the award are four that cause special surprise. In the case of one of them because it is undoubtedly one of the symbols of the worldwide pacifist struggle, the Indian Mahatma Gandhi, whose name figured several times.

In the case of the other three, because they have gone down in history because of the human rights abuses they committed. Adolf Hitler was presented a candidate in 1939 by a Swedish deputy, who nevertheless believed that he did not want this name to be taken seriously. In the case of Josef Stalin his name was presented in 1945 and 1948 for his efforts during World War II. Another of the contemporaries of both, the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, was also a candidate for the award.

Similar Posts