The Nobel Prize
It’s a strange twist of history that the most famous peace prize in the world was set up by a man who made a fortune from war. Alfred Nobel, who was born in Stockholm, Sweden in 1833, was an inventor and a businessman. He learned his trade alongside his father, who sold weapons, including sea mines, to Russia during the Crimean War.
Alfred Nobel’s first major invention was dynamite, a kind of explosive. Although dynamite has many peaceful uses, including digging tunnels, it can also be used in warfare. Alfred Nobel went on to become extremely wealthy by inventing and selling war materials, especially with a kind of smokeless gunpowder that made it easier for soldiers to see during battles.
When Nobel died, in 1895, his will came as quite a surprise. He left most of his vast fortune to pay for a group of prizes to be awarded every year. The prizes were to be given for achievements in chemistry, physics, medicine, literature and the cause of peace. The first prizes were given out in 1901. The first four prizes are awarded by a committee appointed by the Swedish parliament, and the peace prize is decided by a committee appointed by the Norwegian parliament.
What’s the Prize?
In 2008, Nobel Peace Laureates received a prize of 10 million Swedish Krona (about 1.5 million dollars). They are invited Oslo to receive the award and the Nobel Medal and to deliver an address to the Peace Prize Committee.
According to Nobel’s will, the prize for peace is to be awarded to the person who "shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding of peace congresses." The award is sometimes given to an individual and sometimes to an organization.
Over the years, the Nobel committee decided that protecting the environment, ending poverty and defending human rights are all important to advancing the cause of peace. The peace prize for 2007 was split between the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and former U.S. Vice President Al Gore 2008 for their work to on global warming.
All of the Nobel laureates who issued the Global Call to Action have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
See a list of all Nobel Peace Laureates since 1901
Read more facts about Alfred Nobel and the Nobel Prize