The Occasion of the First Award
The first Nobel Peace Prize was awarded at a meeting of the Norwegian Parliament which took place at ten o’clock on the morning of December 10, 1901. The ceremony was brief, lasting only fifteen minutes. Mr. Carl Christian Bemer, president of the Parliament, opened it with this brief address*:
“The Norwegian people have always demanded that their independence be respected. They have always been ready to defend it. But, at the same time, they have always had a keen desire and need for peace. Our nation has wished to pursue its material and intellectual development in peace and on good terms with other nations. This basic concept has been put into practice repeatedly and with increasing strength by the Norwegian Parliament. At various times the Parliament has gone on record in favor of the signing of peace and arbitration treaties with foreign powers in order to prevent settlement of possible disputes by armed force and to insure just solutions through peaceful means. We may well believe that this need which motivates the Norwegian people, this ardent desire for peace and good relations between nations, is what influenced Dr. Alfred Nobel to entrust to the Parliament of Norway the important responsibility of awarding the prize, through a committee of five, to the one whose work for peace and for fraternity among nations most deserves it. Today when this Peace Prize is to be awarded for the first time, our thoughts turn back in respectful recognition to the man of noble sentiments who, perceiving things to come, knew how to give priority to the great problems of civilization, putting in first place among them work for peace and fraternity among nations. We hope that what he has done in the interest of this great cause will achieve results which will live up to his noble intentions.”
Upon completing his remarks, Mr. Bemer gave the floor to Mr. Jorgen Gunnarsson Løvland, a member of the Nobel Committee and at this time minister of Public Works. Mr. Løvland, in place of Mr. Getz, the Committee chairman, who had died the previous month, announced that the prize was awarded half to Henri Dunant and half to Frederic Passy. There was no presentation speech, and after some further official formalities, the Parliament adjourned.
Les Prix Nobel does not record that either of the laureates was present; and neither delivered a Nobel Lecture later, each, at his own request, having been released from this obligation by the Nobel Committee.
Their work and discoveries range from how cells adapt to changes in levels of oxygen to our ability to fight global poverty.
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