Lord Boyd Orr’s Acceptance Speech, on the occasion of the award of the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, December 10, 1949
Your Majesty, Mr President, Ladies and Gentlemen, no one standing in the position I am in this day, could be otherwise than embarrassed by grave doubts of being worthy to receive this Nobel Peace Prize, in my opinion, the greatest honour any man can get.
In my case the embarrassment is somewhat relieved by the thought that the award is not so much to me personally as to the movements with which I have been connected.
These are, first the one to get nations to co-operate in applying modern science to develop the vast potential resources of the earth to put an end to hunger and poverty and bring economic prosperity to the peoples of all countries. This would put an end to one of the main causes of social unrest and war, and be an important step towards international agreement and peace.
The other is the more direct though more difficult road to peace by the formation of a world government with power to replace international anarchy by international law which all countries whatever their national ideology would obey.
I hope that all those who have worked for these complementary approaches to World Unity and Peace will regard me as their representative and feel encouraged to redouble their efforts which have been sealed with the approval of the Committee making this award.
Now, may I say one word about this Nobel Peace Prize. In the past honours have been given to successful leaders in war. And, indeed, until recently, it was possible to think of glory and chivalry being associated with War. But, as Alfred Nobel foresaw the advance of science has made the former kind of war fought only by soldiers, no longer possible. There can be nothing glorious or chivalrous about a war with atomic bombs and the more terrifying biological weapons. A war with these weapons would be wholesale massacre of civilians old and young, from which few in Europe would escape, for, as has been truly said there would be “nowhere to hide”.
Alfred Nobel’s greatest contribution to the welfare of humanity was not high explosives which have been of great value in mining and other industries. That would have been invented soon, in any case, by some chemist. It was his prophetic foresight which enabled him to see that the advance of science would make war so disastrous that no government of sane men would consider war as a means of settling international disputes. The establishment of a prize to encourage efforts for peace was the natural outcome of this visionary of the future.
And, now, in conclusion, I wish to thank you Mr. President and the members of your Committee for the great honour you have done me in choosing me as the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, an honour enhanced by the presence here today of His Majesty The King and other members of The Royal Family.
Their work and discoveries range from how cells adapt to changes in levels of oxygen to our ability to fight global poverty.
See them all presented here.