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News Navigator: Why is the Nobel Peace Prize awarded in Norway?

The Nobel Peace Center, which introduces past winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, is seen in Oslo, Norway. (Mainichi)

The Mainichi answers some common questions readers may have about why, unlike all the other Nobel prizes which are awarded in Sweden, the Peace Prize is given in Norway.

Q: Who chooses Nobel Peace Prize winners?

A: The other five Nobel Prizes are chosen by Swedish organizations. Only the peace prize is selected by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which is composed of five members appointed by the Norwegian parliament from among ex-parliamentarians and others. The award ceremony is held in Norway's capital Oslo.

Q: Why does a Norwegian committee award the prize?

A: Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel (1833 - 1896), who bequeathed the funds to found the Nobel Prizes, named Norway in his will. The kingdoms of Norway and Sweden were united until 1905, and also possibly Norway was considered able to select winners neutrally because it was a frequent international conflict arbiter.

Q: How do they select laureates?

A: First, from the end of September the previous year to Feb. 1, qualified members of parliament, academics and past laureates all over the world nominate people by post or email. The Norwegian Nobel Committee studies the candidates' achievements, while Norwegian university academics acting as advisers do further research and compile reports. Laureates are finalized through committee discussions based on the reports. The committee always aims for a unanimous decision, but if that is impossible, the winner is chosen by the majority. The peace prize ceremony is held on Dec. 10, the anniversary of Nobel's death. This year's laureates were Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege and Iraqi Yazidi human rights activist Nadia Murad. They were chosen from among the second largest number of 331 nominees in the prize's history.

Q: Who are some of the past nominees?

A: The lists of the candidates and the decision process are not disclosed until 50 years after a prize is awarded. It has been revealed that dictators including Adolf Hitler of Nazi Germany and Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union were nominated. Mahatma Gandhi, who led the Indian independence movement before being assassinated in 1948, was nominated five times but did not win. The only Japanese winner is former Prime Minister Sato Eisaku in 1974, for introducing Japan's Three Non-Nuclear Principles.


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