A Century of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates (1901-2005)

16 November 2008

An impressive pictorial and documented exhibition entitled A Century of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates (1901-2005): From Peace Movements to the United Nations, was on view in the Palais des Nations, Geneva, in 2006. It featured a selection of thirty-eight Nobel Peace Prize Laureates who strove to promote international peace through the development of organizations from the antecedents of the League of Nations to the United Nations. The exhibition split into three periods that characterized the twentieth century: the pre-World War I period, the inter-war years and the period from 1945 to 2005.

The exhibition was presented and documented by the Library of the United Nations Office at Geneva and the Center for the Study of Global Change at Indiana University, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Bertha von Suttner’s acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1905. The first woman to be granted with the Prize, this Austrian peace leader was secretary to Alfred Nobel for a short time, and is credited with suggesting to him the development of the peace award.

A United Nations sales publication with the same title supports the exhibition, and contains a selection of unique archival documents held by the Library of the United Nations Office at Geneva. Among its extensive holdings the Library houses the Bertha von Suttner Papers, the Permanent International Peace Bureau archives, the Woodrow Wilson collection, the League of Nations archives and the archives of the United Nations Office at Geneva as well as other valuable collections. A website complements the material presented by providing access to a selection of primary materials, including correspondence, reports, photographs, addresses, and treaties, as well as other artefacts.

Nobel Committee and UN system

The Nobel Committee has chosen on many occasions to highlight the efforts made towards peace achievements by personalities or institutions from the UN system. From 1945 to 2005, the period showcases individuals and organizations affiliated with the United Nations who received the Nobel Peace Prize.

Recently it has repeatedly decided to reward combined efforts by awarding the Prize, in two equal parts, to a UN institution and to its leader; in 200l the United Nations and its Secretary-General Kofi Annan were chosen “for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world” and in 2005, the Committee decided that the Prize was to be shared between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and its Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei, “for their efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is used in the safest possible way.”

Note: This text is drawn from A Century of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates (1901-2005): From Peace Movements to the United Nations (ISBN 92-1-101110-8), Price CHF.21.00, Palais des Nations, Geneva.