NOBEL PEACE PRIZE AWARDED TO BARACK OBAMA
The US president, Barack Obama, was today (October 9, 2009) awarded the 2009 Nobel peace prize “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples”.
US president wins prize for ‘extraordinary efforts’ to improve world diplomacy and co-operation…
The Nobel committee said “only rarely has a person such as Obama captured the world’s attention and given his 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,” the citation said.
The committee said Obama, who only took up the presidency in January, had been acknowledged for his calls to reduce the world’s stockpile of nuclear weapons and working for world peace.
“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.”
The first African American to hold the country’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.
His name had been mentioned in speculation before the award but many Nobel watchers believed it was too early to award it to the president.
Michael Cox, a North America expert at the Chatham House thinktank, said: “It is difficult to see why it would be awarded to him at this stage in his presidency. There are problems in the Middle East and an ongoing war in Afghanistan. You could say it is a little bit premature. It is certainly a very interesting choice.”
The committee said that for 108 years it had sought to stimulate precisely the international policy and 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’.”
Former US presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson won the award in 1906 and 1919 respectively. Former president Jimmy Carter won the award in 2002 for his “decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflict”.
The former US vice-president Al Gore shared the 2007 prize with the UN panel on climate change.
The prize, worth 10 million Swedish crowns (£880,000), will be awarded in Oslo next month.