On 27 November 1895, Alfred Nobel signed his last will and testament, giving the largest share of his fortune to a series of prizes, the Nobel Prizes. As described in Nobel’s will, one part was dedicated 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”. Learn more about the Nobel Peace Prize from 1901 to 2021.
Number of Nobel Peace Prizes
102 Nobel Peace Prizes have been awarded since 1901. It was not awarded on 19 occasions: in 1914-1916, 1918, 1923, 1924, 1928, 1932, 1939-1943, 1948, 1955-1956, 1966-1967 and 1972.
Why were the peace prizes not awarded in those years? In the statutes of the Nobel Foundation it says: “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.” During World War I and II, fewer Nobel Prizes were awarded.
Shared and unshared Nobel Peace Prizes
69 peace prizes have been given to one laureate only.
31 peace prizes have been shared by two laureates.
2 peace prizes have been shared between three persons. The 1994 Nobel Peace Prize to Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin, and the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman.
Why is that? In the statutes of the Nobel Foundation it says: “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.”
Number of Nobel Peace Prize laureates
The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to 137 laureates* – to 109 individuals and 28 organizations. Since Comité International de la Croix Rouge (International Committee of the Red Cross) was awarded three times and Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was awarded twice there are 109 individuals and 25 organizations that have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
List of all Nobel Peace Prize laureates
List of all Nobel Peace Prize awarded organizations
Youngest peace laureate
To date, the youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate is Malala Yousafzai, who was 17 years old when awarded the 2014 peace prize.
Oldest peace laureate
The oldest Nobel Peace Prize laureate to date is Joseph Rotblat, who was 87 years old when he was awarded the prize in 1995.
Female Nobel Peace Prize laureates
Of the 109 individuals awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, 18 are women. The first time a Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to a woman was in 1905, to Bertha von Suttner.
1905 – Bertha von Suttner
1931 – Jane Addams
1946 – Emily Greene Balch
1976 – Betty Williams
1976 – Mairead Corrigan
1979 – Mother Teresa
1982 – Alva Myrdal
1991 – Aung San Suu Kyi
1992 – Rigoberta Menchú Tum
1997 – Jody Williams
2003 – Shirin Ebadi
2004 – Wangari Maathai
2011 – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
2011 – Leymah Gbowee
2011 – Tawakkol Karman
2014 – Malala Yousafzai
2018 – Nadia Murad
2021 – Maria Ressa
List of all female Nobel Prize laureates
Multiple Nobel Peace Prize laureates
The work of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been honoured the most – three times – by a Nobel Peace Prize. In addition, the founder of the ICRC, Henry Dunant, was awarded the first Nobel Peace Prize in 1901.
One peace laureate declined the Nobel Peace Prize
The Vietnamese politician Le Duc Tho, awarded the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize jointly with US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, is the only person who has declined the Nobel Peace Prize. They were both awarded the Prize for negotiating the Vietnam peace accord. Le Duc Tho said that he was not in a position to accept the Nobel Prize, citing the situation in Vietnam as his reason.
The Vietnam Conflict (1959-1975), was fought between the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) and the United States-supported Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam). The Southern and American forces were defeated and the war ended with unification of Vietnam under the communist government of the North.
Presentation Speech by the Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee on the day of the award ceremony, 10 December 1973
Nobel Peace Prize laureates under arrest at the time of the award
German pacifist and journalist Carl von Ossietzky
Burmese politician Aung San Suu Kyi
Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo
Posthumous Nobel Peace Prizes
There is one posthumous Nobel Peace Prize, to Dag Hammarskjöld in 1961. From 1974, the Statutes of the Nobel Foundation stipulate that a prize cannot be awarded posthumously, unless death has occurred after the announcement of the Nobel Prize. Before 1974, the Nobel Prize was also awarded posthumously to Erik Axel Karlfeldt (Nobel Prize in Literature 1931).
Surprise Nobel Peace Prize laureate?
Many believe that Winston Churchill was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, but he was actually awarded the 1953 Nobel Prize in Literature. In fact, Churchill was nominated both for the literature prize and for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Explore the nomination database for the Nobel Prizes
Nobel Peace Prizes and nominations in the first 100 years
The 109 awarded individuals and organizations over the first one hundred years of the Nobel Peace Prize (1901-2001), and the 4857 nominees, can be distributed geographically and by organization as shown below:
Nominated but not awarded
The three most common searches on individuals in the Nobel Peace Prize nomination database are Adolf Hitler, Mahatma Gandhi and Joseph Stalin.
Joseph Stalin, the Secretary General of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1922-1953), was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1945 and 1948 for his efforts to end World War II.
Mahatma Gandhi, one of the strongest symbols of non-violence in the 20th century, was nominated in 1937, 1938, 1939, 1947 and, finally, shortly before he was assassinated in January 1948. Although Gandhi was not awarded the prize (a posthumous award is not allowed by the statutes), the Norwegian Nobel Committee decided to make no award that year on the grounds that “there was no suitable living candidate”.
Read more about “the missing laureate”
Adolf Hitler was nominated once in 1939. As unlikely as it may seem today, Adolf Hitler was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1939 by a member of the Swedish parliament, E.G.C. Brandt. Apparently, Brandt never intended the nomination to be taken seriously. Brandt was a dedicated antifascist and had intended this nomination more as a satiric criticism of the current political debate in Sweden. At the time, a number of Swedish parliamentarians had nominated then British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlin for the Nobel Peace Prize, a nomination which Brandt viewed with great skepticism. However, Brandt’s satirical intentions were not well received and the nomination was swiftly withdrawn in a letter dated 1 February 1939.
Read more about the nomination of Adolf Hitler
Other statesmen and national leaders who were nominated but not awarded the Nobel Peace Prize:
Czechoslovakia: Thomas G. Masaryk, Edvard Benes,
Great Britain: Neville Chamberlain, Anthony Eden, Clement Attlee,
Ramsay MacDonald, Winston Churchill
USA: the presidents William Howard Taft, Warren G. Harding, Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman &
Dwight D. Eisenhower; the foreign ministers Charles Hughes, John Foster Dulles
France: Pierre Mendès-France
Western Germany: Konrad Adenauer
Argentina: Juan and Eva Peron
India: Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru
Finland: Juho Kusti Paasikivi
Italy: Benito Mussolini
Artists nominated but not awarded the peace prize:
Leo Tolstoy (Russian author), E.M. Remarque (German author), Pablo Casals (Spanish Catalan cellist and later conductor), Nicholas Roerich.
Nominees not primarily known for their peace work:
John Maynard Keynes, British economist.
Pierre de Coubertin, French pedagogue and historian best known for founding the International Olympic Committee.
Lord Baden-Powell, Lieutenant-General in the British Army, writer, founder of the Scout Movement.
Maria Montessori, best known for her philosophy and method of educating children from birth to adolescence. Her educational method is still in use today in a number of public as well as private schools throughout the world.
Tsar Nikolai II (1901), Prince Carl of Sweden (1919), King Albert I of Belgium (1922), Emperor Haile Selassi of Ethiopia (1938), King Paul I of Greece (1950), Princess Wilhelmina of the Netherlands (1951).
To be nominated for a Nobel Prize is not an official endorsement or extended honour to imply affiliation with the prize or its related institutions. Nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize require no invitation and can be submitted from all corners of the world to the Norwegian Nobel Committee. The broad eligibility of nominators means thousands of people – with no affiliation to the Nobel Committee – can put forward a name and motivate their opinion of why they consider a candidate worthy. This is what differs the selection process for the Nobel Peace Prize from many other prizes where awarding committees or academies select all the nominees as well as the winner.
How many times can someone be nominated?
Jane Addams was nominated 91 times between 1916 and 1931, when she was finally awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. By contrast Emily Green Balch, Fridtjof Nansen and Theodore Roosevelt received the Nobel Peace Prize the first year that they were nominated.
Search the nomination database for the Nobel Prizes
Why a Norwegian committee for the Nobel Peace Prize?
All Nobel Prizes are awarded in Stockholm, Sweden, except for the Nobel Peace Prize, which is awarded in Oslo, Norway. The founder of the Nobel Prize, Alfred Nobel, was a Swedish cosmopolitan. In his will, he declared that the Nobel Peace Prize should be awarded by a Norwegian committee. When Alfred Nobel was alive, Norway and Sweden were united under one monarch, until 1905 when Norway became an independent kingdom.
More about the Norwegian Nobel committee
The Nobel Peace Prize medal
The Nobel Peace Prize medal was designed by Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland and shows Alfred Nobel in a pose slightly different from that of the other medals.
Read more about the Nobel Peace Prize medal
The Nobel Prize diplomas
Each Nobel Prize diploma is a unique work of art, created by foremost Swedish and Norwegian artists and calligraphers.
More about the Nobel Prize diplomas
The Nobel Prize amount
Alfred Nobel left most of his estate, more than SEK 31 million (today approximately SEK 1,702 million) to be converted into a fund and invested in “safe securities.” The income from the investments was to be “distributed annually in the form of prizes to those who during the preceding year have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind.”
The Nobel Prize amount for 2021 is set at Swedish kronor (SEK) 10.0 million per full Nobel Prize.
More about the Nobel Prize amount
*Why are the individuals and organisations awarded a Nobel Prize called Nobel Prize laureates?
The word “laureate” refers to being signified by the laurel wreath. In Greek mythology, the god Apollo is represented wearing a laurel wreath on his head. A laurel wreath is a circular crown made of branches and leaves of the bay laurel (in Latin: Laurus nobilis). In Ancient Greece, laurel wreaths were awarded to victors as a sign of honour – both in athletic competitions and in poetic meets.
Links to more facts on the Nobel Prizes:
Facts on the Nobel Prize in Physics
Facts on the Nobel Prize in Chemistry
Facts on the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
Facts on the Nobel Prize in Literature
Facts on the Nobel Peace Prize
Facts on the Prize in Economic Sciences
Facts on all Nobel Prizes
First published 5 October 2009.