Reflections on the First Century of the Nobel Peace Prize



This reflection on Nobel Peace Prize history includes recent awards. The correspondence between Alfred Nobel and Bertha von Suttner provides a background for the challenge of assessing what constitutes peace work and the ambiguity of putting workers for peace into categories. Weighing the merits of awards to individuals and organizations respectively, institutional recognition becomes politically understandable, but seems less able to inspire emulation. Prizes for statesmen and political leaders get a very mixed evaluation in the light of historical context. Awards for human rights illustrate the most recently recognized form of peace work, and the role of organized campaigns for the prize pales against the dramatic story of personal achievement in the cause of humanity.