League of Red Cross Societies

Acceptance Speech

Mr. John Alexander MacAulay delivered the Acceptance Speech in the name of the League of Red Cross Societies in the Auditorium of the University of Oslo on December 10, 1963,

Your Majesty, Your Royal Highness, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.

This is a very important day in the history of the League of Red Cross Societies. By deciding to award the Nobel Peace Prize to the International Red Cross, the Nobel Peace Committee has paid tribute to, and has honoured, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the League of Red Cross Societies, in fact, the entire organization which works on behalf of suffering humanity.

The League of Red Cross Societies in its constitution is described as the International Federation of National Red Cross Societies, an association of unlimited duration, having the legal status of a corporate body.

Henri Dunant, the founder of the Red Cross, raised his voice more than 100 years ago against barbarity, suffering and misery. National Societies emerged and developed as a direct consequence of his attitude and philosophy. In the realization of his dreams he proposed the formation of relief societies which would always be available for the performance of an ever-increasing number of new tasks. The year 1863 saw the birth of the first of these relief societies.

As a result of this call to service, the League has today some 102 recognized National Societies, with approximately 170,000,000 members, all working according to the principles laid down in Geneva by its founding fathers 100 years ago.

The first Peace Prize was given to that noble man, Henri Dunant, founder of the Red Cross. By awarding the 1963 Peace Prize to the International Red Cross, we believe it is your intention to praise the daily work of those brave men and women who take care of, the victims of natural disasters, the patient who needs blood, the child who lacks milk, the refugee in search of asylum, and of all those other people who are alone in the world.

In this spirit, our delegation receives this Nobel Peace Prize not only on behalf of the League, but also on behalf of all the National Red Cross, Red Crescent and Red Lion and Sun Societies and all their members, without whom the League would not exist. Indeed, without these millions of Red Cross workers, without their support, without the spirit of solidarity and devotion they have always shown, the League would never have been able to fulfill its coordinating mission in all the fields where man has need of man. Throughout the world, volunteers of different nationalities, races and ideologies unite in one and the same impulse to serve the same cause and thereby create a vast network of international agreement, a climate of understanding conducive to the establishment of a lasting peace.

We would like to pay tribute to the Norwegian Red Cross, one of the pillars of our organization. This country, after having suffered in its flesh and soul during the last War has rapidly become a nation, the generosity of which is admired by all. On every occasion it shows its extreme interest in bringing comfort to the underprivileged of the world, thereby following the example given them by that great Norwegian, Fridtjof Nansen, the administrator of many Red Cross actions after the first War.

The relief actions of the League are as many testimonies of its solidarity. It assists in the development of new societies. It trains young people in a climate of friendship and service. The League will continue to serve men, to persuade them to extend a helping hand, to show them in the words of Sophocles that “they are born to love and not to hate each other.”

We are deeply indebted to the Nobel Prize Committee for recognizing the contribution of the League towards Peace. We wish to pay tribute in the most eloquent terms to that great Swedish chemist and engineer, Alfred Nobel, who bequeathed his enormous fortune to the creation of prizes in so many scientific and literary fields and to the promotion of fraternity of nations and the abolition or diminution of standing armies.

Deeply moved, the League of Red Cross Societies wishes to express to the Nobel Prize Committee at this solemn moment its warm gratitude for this great tribute to its work, which is at the same time an invaluable encouragement to it in the pursuit of its mission.

From Les Prix Nobel en 1963, Editor Göran Liljestrand, [Nobel Foundation], Stockholm, 1964

Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 1963

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