President Barack Obama has won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, which he received in Oslo on 10 December. Photo: The White House

Obama receives Nobel Peace Prize

During a ceremony in Oslo on 10 December, President Barack Obama received the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.

"I receive this honor with deep gratitude and great humility," President Obama said during the ceremony  in Oslo's City Hall. "It is an award that speaks to our highest aspirations -- that for all the cruelty and hardship of our world, we are not mere prisoners of fate. Our actions matter, and can bend history in the direction of justice."

"I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war," he continued. "What I do know is that meeting these challenges will require the same vision, hard work, and persistence of those men and women who acted so boldly decades ago. And it will require us to think in new ways about the notions of just war and the imperatives of a just peace."

Prior to the ceremony, President Obama met Norway's Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg at the PM's Office where they amongst others discussed climate change and the situation in Afghanistan. The meeting was followed by a press conference where President Obama thanked the Norwegian people and the royal family their hospitality. 

Replying to a question from Norwegian broadcaster NRK whether he thought he had been awarded the prize prematurely, the President said he had no doubt there were other candidates more deserving, but continued: "The goal is not to win a popularity contest or to get an award, even one as prestigious as the Nobel peace prize. The goal has been to advance America's interests. If I am successful in those tasks, then hopefully some of the criticism will subside, but that is not really my concern. If I am not successful, then all the praise and the awards in the world won't disguise that fact."

Prime Minister Stoltenberg supported the Nobel committee's decision and said at the press conference that he could not think of anyone who had done more for world peace over the past year and that President Obama through his work was creating a world of less conflicts.

The Nobel Peace Prize is an international prize which is awarded annually by the Norwegian Nobel Committee according to guidelines laid down in Alfred Nobel's will. The Peace Prize is one of five prizes that have been awarded annually since 1901 under the auspices of the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm for outstanding contributions in the fields of physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and peace.

Whereas the other prizes are awarded by specialist committees based in Sweden, the Peace Prize is awarded by a committee appointed by the Norwegian Parliament, the Storting. According to Nobel's will, the Peace Prize is to go to whoever "shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses". The prize includes a medal, a personal diploma, and a large sum of prize money, currently 10 million Swedish kronor ($1.4m). The Nobel Peace Prize has been called "the world's most prestigious prize". President Obama is the 21st American to win the Peace Prize. 

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