Monday, December 10, 2007
Champions of peace
The Norwegian Nobel committee is a low key, taciturn, downright secretive group. They are appointed by the Norwegian Storting (parliament). Many of them are former members of the Storting -– and all of them are politically engaged in one way or another.

They meet just a few times a year –- sorting through the mounds of nominations mailed to the Norwegian Nobel Institute on Henrik Ibsen’s Gate here in Oslo.

They have a pretty simple mission -– in as much as their mission statement is the 200-word last will and testament of 19th century Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel.

Nobel committed most of his fortune to fund the prizes. Each year the interest from the endowment is divided evenly and awarded to the winners in each category. This year the each award was 1.5 million dollars.

The prizes go to "those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind" in the fields of physics, chemistry, medicine literature, economics as well as "one part to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."

For reasons that remain a mystery, Nobel wrote in his will the "champions of peace" should be selected by a committee of five persons to be elected by the Norwegian Storting.

-- From CNN Anchor/Producer Miles O'Brien
I believe Nobel chose the Norwegians for the peace prize as a 'carrot' to keep Norway and Sweden in a union. Norway declared independence in 1814 and split from Sweden in 1905.
I believe the reason was found in Sweden's war history. Nobel wanted a neutral country to hand out the peace prize. And Norway was a neutral country with limited war history and just a bare minimum army at the time.
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