It is the culmination of the annual Nobel Prize announcements: when the world’s most prestigious peace prize is awarded, the world takes a look at Oslo. There they honor a UN organization dedicated to the fight against hunger. This year’s Nobel Peace Prize goes to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP). The Norwegian Nobel Committee announced this on Friday in Oslo.
The UN organization will be honored for, among other things, its efforts in the fight against hunger and its contribution to improving peace conditions in conflict areas, said committee chair Berit Reiss-Andersen announcing the award. The WFP is a vital force in the pursuit of peace in conflict areas.
As the world’s largest humanitarian organization, the World Food Program provided food for nearly 100 million people in 88 countries in 2019. The WFP can reach hard-to-reach regions, such as Syria or Yemen, the Nobel Committee explains.
The number of starving people has risen sharply in the coronavirus pandemic. “Until the day we have a medical vaccine, the best vaccine against chaos is food,” said Reiss-Andersen. The World Food Program played a vital role in making food security a peace instrument.
“This is a moment of pride,” said WFP spokesman Tomson Phiri. He was at a press conference covering the work of the WFP in Sudan when the award was announced. The award is a recognition of both the employees and the many volunteers around the world. “We have delivered again this year and have gone beyond the call of duty,” he said.
Despite global travel restrictions, the WFP provided hungry people. “We were once the largest airline in the world,” he said. The WFP chartered aircraft after they stopped flying commercial flights that normally carry a lot of material for the WFP.
The Nobel Prizes are named after the Swedish chemist and inventor Alfred Nobel (1833-1896). In his will, he stated that his legacy should become the financial basis for five international prizes in physics, chemistry, literature, medicine and peace. In 1968 a prize for economics was launched in memory of Nobel.
According to Nobel’s will, the Peace Prize should be awarded to those who have done the best work for greater brotherhood between nations, abolished the military, or organized peace conventions.
David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Program Photo: Andrea Lindner / dpa
While four Nobel Prizes are awarded by Swedish Nobel Prize committees, the founder also stipulated that the Nobel Peace Prize winner would be elected by five members of the Norwegian Parliament. The amount of the prize money depends on the floating capital of the Nobel Foundation. When it was first awarded it was 150,800 SEK. This year the award was endowed with ten million crowns (approximately 950,000 euros).
Particularly famous winners of the Nobel Peace Prize were Nelson Mandela (1993), Barack Obama (2009), Mother Teresa (1979) and Albert Schweitzer (1952). In 2017 he went to the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).
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Last year, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was honored, especially for his initiative to resolve the border dispute with neighboring Eritrea.
More than 300 candidates had a chance to win Abiy’s successor. According to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, 211 personalities and 107 organizations were nominated on time for this year’s prize. This equates to the fourth-highest number of nominations ever, but well below the peak of 376 nominees in 2016.
Unlike the other Nobel laureates, the Nobel Peace Prize Winner will not be announced in Stockholm, but in Oslo. There it will actually be presented on December 10, the anniversary of the death of dynamite inventor and award sponsor Alfred Nobel. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is unclear this time whether the award winner will be able to travel to Norway or be digitally connected to the award ceremony. The award ceremony will not take place as usual in Oslo City Hall, but in a much smaller setting in the auditorium of the city’s university. (KNA, dpa)