Nobel Peace Prize 2011 Part I

By | October 19, 2021

“Magnificent” – “fantastically important” – “really tinned” – “historical”. There was no shortage of good words when the Nobel Committee announced who would receive the Peace Prize for 2011: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee from Liberia and Tawakkol Karman from Yemen received the prize for their non-violent struggle for a peaceful value. But the Peace Prize has not always emphasized such joy as in 2011.

  • What is the basis for the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2011?
  • What qualifications should those who sit on the Nobel Committee have?
  • Why did the award ceremony bring extra joy in 2011?
  • What is the background of the Peace Prize winners?

2: Who will receive the Peace Prize?

The award ceremony in particular for the last two years has aroused strong criticism. The Chinese government became furious in 2010 when dissident Liu Xiaobo received the award “for non-violent struggle for central human rights in China”. And many were amazed when the President of the United States, Barack Obama, received the award in 2009. He was the leader of the largest military power in the world, which waged war in Afghanistan and Iraq. But the Nobel Committee justified the award with “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and international cooperation.”

Alfred Nobel wrote his will in 1895. There he wrote that the Peace Prize should go to the person “who had worked most or best to promote brotherhood between the people and abolish or reduce standing armies as well as organize and distribute peace congresses.”

As much as has happened since 1895, it is clear that more than 100 years later one must interpret the text and adapt it to another time. But how? There are different opinions here, and the Nobel Committee has also changed its views over the years.

Only for the latest awards do we find different reasons for the awards: resolve international conflicts peacefully, counteract climate change, create social and economic development from below, prevent nuclear power from being used for military purposes, promote sustainable development, democracy and human rights, peace and reconciliation.

The person who has gone the furthest in the criticism of the Nobel Committee is the lawyer Fredrik S. Heffermehl . In the book “The Nobel’s Will”, he claims that many of the later awards have been in conflict with Alfred Nobel’s will. The prize would go to “peace advocates”, according to Nobel.

His goal was to prevent war through a “brotherhood between nations” – a global cooperation on disarmament based on global law and global institutions. The “extended peace concept” that the Nobel Committee has in many cases based its awards on has nothing to do with the Nobel will, Heffermehl points out. If the work for military reductions is successful, it will have positive ripple effects in many areas – democracy and human rights, the fight against poverty, welfare, the environment and the use of resources…. »

We have also been asked questions at the composition of the Nobel Committee . Former owners were criticized for male dominance. The committee now has a predominance of women. But they are all ethnic Norwegian politicians, albeit from different parties. It is claimed that the participation of experts from different areas, grassroots activists from the peace movement or people with a different cultural background could provide the committee with a broader basis for assessment.

3: Why so much joy in 2011?

For those who believe that the award has been linked to objects that are probably good, but not rightly in line with the will of Alfred Nobel, it was a joy that the award now went to peace work in a more traditional sense .

For many, it has also been a problem that the prize has so often gone to men and so rarely to women. Only 15 women (incl. 2011) have been awarded the Peace Prize since 1901, while 86 men have received it. When we know that women all over the globe have fought for peace, and men have our heads of state, army commanders and the military, it seems inferior that so few women have been honored with a peace prize.

Never before has the Nobel Committee received so many proposals for the award as in 2011. 241 different organizations and individuals were nominated. The competition was fierce. It is all the more uplifting that women finally went to the top, and that the Nobel Committee placed special emphasis on the role of women in the work for democracy and lasting peace in the world.

People who are interested in peacebuilding in Africa and the struggle for democracy in the Arab world, especially appreciate that the award went to women in Liberia and Yemen .

4: Liberia – a long road to peace

Liberia, as a country located in Africa according to, was founded by freed slaves from the United States. They established themselves as an upper class and exploited the peoples who lived there from before. The land was taken from them, and they became forced labor without rights. Rubber and iron ore provided large revenues to the Americo-Liberian elite, which monopolized power and benefits. Poverty and illiteracy prevailed among most people, and opposition was severely suppressed.

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