American President Barack Obama has unexpectedly been announced as the 2009 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”
In its official announcement, the committee said that in awarding Obama the prestigious prize “he has created a new international climate.” Obama’s name had not figured in speculation about the likely winner until just a few minutes before the prize was announced in Oslo, Norway.
Until the announcement, likely candidates had been seen as including human rights activists in China and Afghanistan or political figures in Africa such as Morgan Tsvangirai of Zimbabwe.
The committee said it wanted to enhance Obama’s diplomatic efforts. “We are awarding Obama for what he has done,” the committee said. “Many other people and leaders and nations have to respond in a positive way” to his international diplomatic efforts.
The announcement gave special importance to Obama’s vision of a world without nuclear weapons. “Obama has as president created a new climate in international politics”. The Norwegian Nobel Committee cited his outreach to the Muslim world and attempts to curb nuclear proliferation as particularly important efforts. “Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play,” the committee said in its official announcement.
Since his election, Obama has placed increasing stress on steps to limit nuclear proliferation and to begin international negotiations aimed at achieving nuclear disarmament. A key element of his international diplomacy has been to re-establish a climate of civil and cooperative international relations with nations heretofore seen as enemies.
In his 1895 will, Alfred Nobel stipulated that the peace prize should go “to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations and the abolition or reduction of standing armies and the formation and spreading of peace congresses.” Previous American presidential winners have included Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt and Jimmy Carter and Vice President Al Gore has also won this prize.
By Brooks Spector
See also The Daily Maverick’s earlier analysis of the Obama foreign policies so far here.