This is a page with key subjects from the statutes.
Objects of the Foundation
The Nobel Foundation is established under the terms of the will of the engineer Dr. Alfred Bernhard Nobel, drawn up on 27 November 1895 which in its relevant parts states:
“The whole of my remaining realisable estate shall be dealt with in the following way: the capital, invested in safe securities by my executors, shall constitute a fund, the interest on which shall be annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind. The said interest shall be divided into five equal parts, which shall be apportioned as follows: one part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery or invention within the field of physics; one part to the person who shall have made the most important chemical discovery or improvement; one part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery within the domain of physiology or medicine; one part to the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction; and one part to the person who 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 for physics and chemistry shall be awarded by the Swedish Academy of Sciences; that for physiological or medical works by Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm; that for literature by the Academy in Stockholm; and that for champions of peace by a committee of five persons to be elected by the Norwegian Storting. It is my express wish that in awarding the prizes no consideration whatever shall be given to the nationality of the candidates, but that the most worthy shall receive the prize, whether he be a Scandinavian or not.”
The provisions of the will as set forth above shall be observed by the Foundation together with the explanations and more detailed instructions embodied in these statutes and in a settlement arrived at with certain of Dr. Nobel’s heirs on 5 June 1898. In this settlement, after an agreement had been reached concerning a minor part of Dr. Nobel’s estate, they declared that they “hereby acknowledge Dr. Nobel’s will and renounce unconditionally, for themselves and their heirs, all further claims on Dr. Nobel’s estate and all claims to take part in its administration, and similarly every right to protest against the elucidations of, or addition to, the will as well as any other provisions as to its carrying into effect and the uses to which the proceeds are put, which, now or in the future, shall be enjoined by the Crown or whomsoever competent; subject, however, to the following express reservations:
a) that the statutes, common to the prize-awarding institutions, dealing with the manner of, and the conditions for, the award of prizes as prescribed in the will, shall be drawn up in consultation with a representative nominated by Robert Nobel’s family and submitted to the approval of the Crown; and
b) that there shall be no departure from the following main principles, viz: that each of the annual prizes established by the will shall be awarded at least during each five-year period from, and including, the year immediately following that in which the Nobel Foundation commences its activities, and
that the amount of a prize thus awarded shall under no circumstances be less than sixty percent of that portion of the annual yield of the fund that shall be available for the prize award, nor shall it be divided into more than three prizes at most.”
The “Academy in Stockholm,” mentioned in the will, shall refer to the Swedish Academy.
The term “literature” shall comprise not only belles-lettres but also other writings which, by virtue of their form and style, possess literary value.
The duties devolving upon Karolinska Institutet under the will shall be performed by the Nobel Assembly of Karolinska Institutet.
The provision in the will that the annual award of prizes shall be intended for works “during the preceding year” should be understood in the sense that the awards shall be made for the most recent achievements in the fields of culture referred to in the will and for older works only if their significance has not become apparent until recently.
To be eligible to be considered for a prize, a written work shall have been issued in print or have been published in another form, to be decided on its own behalf by each prize-awarding body.
A prize amount may be equally divided between two works, each of which is considered to merit a prize. If a work that is being rewarded has been produced by two or three persons, the prize shall be awarded to them jointly. In no case may a prize amount be divided between more than three persons.
Work produced by a person since deceased shall not be considered for an award. If, however, a prizewinner dies before he has received the prize, then the prize may be presented.
Each prize-awarding body shall be competent to decide whether the prize it is entitled to award may be conferred upon an institution or association.
A work may not be awarded a prize, unless it by experience or expert scrutiny has been found to be of such outstanding importance as is manifestly intended by the will.
If none of the works under consideration is found to be of the importance indicated in the first paragraph, the prize money shall be reserved until the following year. If, even then, the prize cannot be awarded, the amount shall be added to the Foundation’s restricted funds.
For each prize awarded by a Swedish prize-awarding body, the latter shall appoint a Nobel Committee consisting of three, four or five persons, to give their opinion on the matter of the award of the prize. The adjudication needed for the award of the Peace Prize shall be carried out by the committee of the Norwegian Storting referred to in the will, known as the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
Swedish citizenship or membership of the prize-awarding institution shall not be a necessary qualification for election to membership of a Nobel Committee. Persons other than Norwegians may be members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
A member of a Nobel Committee shall receive remuneration for his work, in an amount to be determined by the prize-awarding body.
If it is necessary for special reasons, the prize-awarding body shall be entitled to appoint experts to take part as members in the deliberations and decisions of the Nobel Committee.
To be considered eligible for an award, it is necessary to be nominated in writing by a person competent to make such a nomination. A personal application for an award shall not be considered.
Competence to submit nominations shall be incumbent on representatives, domestic as well as foreign, of the field of culture in question, in conformity with detailed regulations issued by the prize-awarding body.
Each year the prize adjudication shall embrace such nominations as have been submitted during the preceding twelve months up to February 1. If, in addition to the prize for the current year, the prize-awarding body has at its disposal prize money reserved under §5, the question of the award of the prize for the current year shall be decided before a decision is made concerning the amount reserved from the preceding year.
Nominations should be explained and accompanied by the publications and other documents cited in support of them. Each prize-awarding body shall decide on its own behalf how documents shall be submitted.
Where a nomination is written in a language that cannot be translated without particular trouble or considerable expense, or where, to be able to appraise a proposed work, the prize-awarding body must chiefly make itself acquainted with the contents of a document written in such a language, the prize-awarding body shall not be under obligation to take up the nomination for further consideration.
On the Festival Day of the Foundation, 10 December, which is the anniversary of the death of the testator, the prize-awarding bodies shall present to each prizewinner a check for the amount of the prize, a diploma and a gold medal bearing the image of the testator and an appropriate inscription.
Should a prizewinner decline the prize, or before 1 October in the calendar year immediately following fail to cash the prize-awarding body’s check in the manner stipulated by the Board, the amount of the prize shall be added to the Foundation’s restricted funds.
It shall be incumbent on a prizewinner, whenever this is possible, to give a lecture on a subject relevant to the work for which the prize has been awarded. Such a lecture should be given before, or no later than six months after, the Festival Day in Stockholm or, in the case of the Peace Prize, in Oslo.
No appeals may be made against the decision of a prize-awarding body with regard to the award of a prize.
Proposals received for the award of a prize, and investigations and opinions concerning the award of a prize, may not be divulged. Should divergent opinions have been expressed in connection with the decision of a prize-awarding body concerning the award of a prize, this may not be included in the record or otherwise divulged.
A prize-awarding body may, however, after due consideration in each individual case, permit access to material which formed the basis for the evaluation and decision concerning a prize, for purposes of research in intellectual history. Such permission may not, however, be granted until at least 50 years have elapsed after the date on which the decision in question was made.
The Board of the Foundation shall establish financial limits on the work that the prize-awarding bodies perform in accordance with these statutes. The framework grants that the Board annually makes available to the prize-awarding bodies shall also include funds for developing and maintaining such expertise as is needed to perform the prize adjudication work.
For assistance with the scrutiny necessary for the prize adjudication and for promoting the objects of the Foundation in other ways, the prize-awarding bodies may establish Nobel Institutes. Each Nobel Institute shall be under the leadership of the prize-awarding body that established it.
The Board and administration of the Foundation
The Foundation shall be represented by a Board of Directors, which has its registered office in Stockholm and consists of seven members and two deputies, Swedish or Norwegian citizens, who shall be elected by the trustees of the prize-awarding bodies. The Board shall choose from among its own members a Chairman, a Vice-Chairman and an Executive Director. The members of the Board and the deputies shall be appointed for a term of two years, counting from 1 May.
The trustees of the prize-awarding bodies shall determine a reasonable remuneration to be paid in a manner decided by the Board to each Board member, with the exception of the Executive Director, who is not entitled to remuneration as a Board member. The trustees shall also determine a reasonable remuneration for the auditors. The Board shall determine the salary of the Executive Director.
The Board shall administer the property of the Foundation for the purpose of maintaining good long-term prize-awarding capacity and safeguarding the value of the Foundation’s assets in real terms.
The Board shall ensure that the Foundation achieves a good return and risk-spreading by means of appropriate asset structure and turnover.
The Board may also use income resulting from the sale of Foundation assets for prize-awarding and expenses, to the extent this income is not needed to maintain good long-term prize-awarding capacity and safeguard the value of Foundation assets in real terms, or unless the fourth paragraph requires another use.
Of total annual income, at least one tenth shall be allocated to restricted funds.
The Board shall establish rules of procedure, including regulations for the work of the Board, the Executive Director and the other employees of the Foundation.
The Board may not make a decision on any matter unless at least four members participate in the handling of the matter.
Voting shall occur openly. In the case of elections to positions to which a member of the Board may be chosen, however, if one member so requests, voting shall take place by secret ballot. Should an equal number of votes be cast for different opinions and only a simple majority is required, the opinion represented by the chairman shall prevail. In electing the chairman, and in other elections that occur with secret ballots, however, in case of an equal number of votes, the matter shall instead be decided by drawing lots.
The trustees of the prize awarding bodies
The prize-awarding bodies shall elect, for two calendar years at a time, fifteen trustees, six of whom shall be chosen by the Academy of Sciences and three by each of the other prize-awarding bodies. The Academy of Sciences shall choose four deputies and each of the other prize-awarding bodies two.
The trustees shall elect a chairman among their own number. They shall be summoned to such an election by the oldest in years among the trustees of the Academy of Sciences.
A quorum of at least nine trustees shall be necessary for a decision to be made. If any prize-awarding body neglects to elect trustees, this shall not constitute an obstacle to the other trustees to make decisions.
The administration of the Board and the accounts of the Foundation shall, for each calendar year, be examined by six auditors. Of these auditors the Government shall, before the beginning of the year, appoint one, who shall be the chairman of the auditors, and the prize-awarding bodies shall elect one and the trustees one. The auditor elected by the trustees shall be an authorized public accountant.
Before the end of February, the Board shall submit an annual report to the chairman of the auditors. Before 1 April, the auditors shall complete their examination and present their report to the trustees of the prize-awarding bodies and to the Board.
If a prize-awarding body neglects to elect an auditor, or an auditor, after being summoned to a meeting, fails to attend, this shall not constitute an obstacle to the other auditors to carry out their examination.
An auditor shall at all times enjoy free access to all the books, accounts and other documents of the Foundation. The Board shall provide him with the information he requests concerning its administration. At least once a year, the auditors shall examine and scrutinize all the Foundation’s securities.
On the basis of the auditors’ report, the trustees of the prize-awarding bodies are authorized to discharge the Board from personal liability for its administration during the year reported or to take such action against the Board or any member thereof that may be occasioned by the auditors’ report.
Amendment of these statutes
Questions regarding amendment of these statutes may be raised by any prize-awarding body, by their trustees or by the board. In respect of proposals advanced by a prize-awarding body or by the board, the trustees shall give their opinion.
Before the board, in compliance with the Swedish Foundations Act, votes on a proposal to amend the statutes that has been raised in accordance with the first paragraph, the prize-awarding bodies shall examine the proposal. In deciding on such a proposal, the Academy of Sciences shall exercise two votes and the other prize-awarding bodies one vote each. If the proposal fails to secure at least three votes, or if the proposal affects the interests of only one prize-awarding body and that body has not approved the proposal, the board may not adopt it. If any party, within four months of receiving notice thereof, fails to express its opinion concerning a proposal which has been made, this shall not constitute an obstacle to a decision on the matter.