Speech given by The Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee Thorbjørn Jagland(Oslo, December 10, 2009)
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Your Majesties, Mr. President and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Your Royal Highnesses,Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,On the 9th of October this year, the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced that the NobelPeace Prize for 2009 was to be awarded to President Barack H. Obama "for his extraordinaryefforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. TheCommittee has attached special importance to Obama's vision of and work for a world freefrom nuclear weapons".Commenting on the award, President Obama said he did not feel that he deserved to be in thecompany of so many transformative figures that have been honoured by this prize, and whosecourageous pursuit of peace has inspired the world. But he added that he also knew that theNobel Prize had not just been used to honor specific achievements, but also to givemomentum to a set of causes. The Prize could thus represent "a call to action".President Obama has understood the Norwegian Nobel Committee perfectly. We congratulatehim on this year's Nobel Peace Prize!This year's award must be viewed in the light of the prevailing situation in the world, withgreat tension, numerous wars, unresolved conflicts and confrontation on many fronts aroundthe world. And, not least, there is the imminent danger of the spread of nuclear weapons,degradation of the environment and global warming. In fact, Time Magazine recentlydescribed the decade that is coming to an end as the worst since the end of World War II.From the very first moment of his presidency, President Obama has been trying to create amore cooperative climate which can help reverse the present trend. He has already "loweredthe temperature in the world", in the words of former Peace Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu.The Committee always takes Alfred Nobel's will as its frame of reference. We are to awardthe Nobel Peace Prize to the person who, during the "preceding year", meaning in this casesince the previous award in December 2008, shall have done the most or the best work "forfraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for theholding and promotion of peace congresses" - to quote from the will.The question was actually quite simple. Who has done most for peace in the past year? If thequestion is put in Nobel's terms, the answer is relatively easy to find: it had to be U.S.President Barack Obama. Only rarely does one person dominate international politics to the