Ralph Bunche


Ralph Bunche

Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.

Ralph Bunche
The Nobel Peace Prize 1950

Born: 7 August 1904, Detroit, MI, USA

Died: 9 December 1971, New York, NY, USA

Residence at the time of the award: USA

Role: Professor, Harvard University Cambridge, MA, Director, division of Trusteeship, U.N., Acting Mediator in Palestine, 1948

Prize motivation: “for his work as mediator in Palestine in 1948-1949”

Prize share: 1/1

Peace Negotiator in the Middle East

Ralph Bunche was the first African American to be awarded the Peace Prize. He received it for having arranged a cease-fire between Israelis and Arabs during the war which followed the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.

Ralph Bunche was a social science graduate and before World War II studied colonial policy in West Africa. He joined the staff of the Swedish social scientist Gunnar Myrdal, who was studying racial segregation in the USA. In World War II, Bunche became the first Afro-American to hold a top job in the State Department.

In 1946, Ralph Bunche went into UN service, and in the following year Secretary-General Trygve Lie sent him to the Middle East to help to devise a plan for dividing Palestine between Arabs and Jews. The Arabs rejected the UN resolution concerning a Jewish state, and went to war on Israel. When the chief UN negotiator Folke Bernadotte was murdered by Jewish extremists in the autumn of 1948, Ralph Bunche had to replace him. In the following year he succeeded in bringing about a cease-fire, after tough negotiations.

To cite this section
MLA style: Ralph Bunche – Facts. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2023. Fri. 29 Sep 2023. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/peace/1950/bunche/facts/>

Back to top Back To Top Takes users back to the top of the page

Coming up

This year’s Nobel Prize announcements will take place 2–9 October. All announcements will be streamed live here on nobelprize.org.

See the full schedule
Announcement dates

Explore prizes and laureates

Look for popular awards and laureates in different fields, and discover the history of the Nobel Prize.