A Brief History Of Organizations Winning The Nobel Peace Prize

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"A Brief History Of Organizations Winning The Nobel Peace Prize"

Nobel Prize Center

CREDIT: Shutterstock

The Nobel Committee announced on Friday morning that it had awarded the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize, edging out Pakistani activist Malala Yousseff in doing so. Granting the award to an organization, rather than individual, may seem like a rarity, but in the 112 year history of the award, the prize has been given to or shared by 25 different groups for their work. Here’s a look at some of them.

2012: European Union

The most recent example of a body winning the award comes from just last year, when the prize was given to the European Union. “The union and its forerunners have for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe,” the committee explained when announcing its choice. “The work of the EU represents ‘fraternity between nations’, and amounts to a form of the ‘peace congresses’ to which Alfred Nobel refers as criteria for the Peace Prize in his 1895 will.” The award wasn’t without controversy, however, as it came in the middle of uncertainty about the future of the supranational body, rampant unemployment among its members, and sputtering economic growth.

2007: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

Shared with former Vice-President Al Gore, the IPCC took the prize in 2007 for its work in highlighting the dangers of climate change. “By awarding the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 to the IPCC and Al Gore, the Norwegian Nobel Committee is seeking to contribute to a sharper focus on the processes and decisions that appear to be necessary to protect the world’s future climate, and thereby to reduce the threat to the security of mankind,” the Oslo-based Nobel Committee’s press release said.

2006: The Grameen Bank

Founder Muhammed Yunus shared the 2006 prize with his creation, the Grameen Bank. Started in Bangladesh in 1976, the Bank revolutionized the idea of offering small loans, or microloans, to individuals seeking to start or improve their own small business. Microloans have become a cottage industry in their own right since then, with the Grameen Bank alone providing capital for an estimated 6 million people since it launched and boasting a recovery rate of over 90 percent. Since the prize’s awarding, however, Yunus has warned against steps the Bangladeshi government has taken to limit the bank’s independence.

2001: The United Nations

After various organs of the body had won previously — including UNICEF in 1965, U.N. Peacekeepers in 1988, and the U.N. High Commission on Refugees twice in 1954 and 1981 — the United Nations itself finally took the prize in 2001. The award was issued on the hundredth anniversary of the prize’s first being offered and, though not offiically noted in the decision, U.N. officials at the time speculated that the impact of the 9/11 attacks “must have been on jurors’ minds.” In announcing their decision, the committee noted that “the end of the cold war has at last made it possible for the U.N. to perform more fully the part it was originally intended to play.”

1963: International Committee for the Red Cross

The far and away the recipient of the most Nobel Prizes is the Red Cross, which has been awarded the honor three times in the last hundred years. Twice the organization was recognized for its efforts during the largest wars humanity had ever seen: in 1917 during World War I and in 1944 in the midst of WWII. Its most recent award was in 1963, on the 100th anniversary of Henri Dunant — himself the first Nobel Peace Prize laureate — founding the organization. In particular, the Nobel Committee highlighted the ICRC’s work during conflicts in Hungary, Algeria, the Congo and Tibet.

1904: Institute of International Law

Lest one think that the awarding of the Peace Prize to groups is a new phenomenon, the fourth award ever handed out went to the Institut de Droit International in 1904. “In 1904, the Institute of International Law won special praise for promoting international arbitration and for persuading states to accept the rules of law in wartime,” according to the Nobel Prize’s website. “The Institute was among other things given the credit for the provisions on arbitration which were adopted by the Hague Congress in 1899.”

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