Important developments in the history of the Peace Prize
The Nobel Committee’s concept of peace, and its interpretation of the terms of Alfred Nobel’s will, have changed in the course of time. The over one-hundred-year history of the Peace Prize shows that in the opinion of the Norwegian Nobel Committee there are many different paths to peace.
In the earliest years of the Peace Prize – up to World War I – the prize was often awarded to pioneers of the organized peace movement. Many of the laureates were parliamentarians who had committed themselves to working to resolve conflicts on the basis of international law and arbitration.
In the inter-war years, the focus shifted to active politicians who sought to promote peace and détente by means of diplomacy and international agreements, but prizes were also awarded for humanitarian work (Nansen, the League of Nations High Commissioner for Refugees).
Since World War II, the Peace Prize has principally been awarded to honour efforts in four main areas: arms control and disarmament, peace negotiation, democracy and human rights, and work aimed at creating a better organized and more peaceful world.
In its awards to Wangari Maathai in 2004 and to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Al Gore in 2007, the Nobel Committee has indicated that its concept of peace now also embraces efforts to limit the harm done by man-made climate change and threats to the environment.