Award ceremony speech

Presentation Speech by Mrs. Aase Lionaes, Chairman of the Nobel Committee, Norwegian Storting

Your Majesty, Your Royal Highnesses, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:

A few years before he drew up his last will and testament, Alfred Nobel observed in a letter to Bertha von Suttner that his dynamite factories would be able to bring wars to an end a great deal more rapidly than peace congresses would ever succeed in doing.

“The day two armies can destroy one another in the course of a second, there will be hope that all civilised nations will demobilise their forces and refrain from waging war.” Thus as far back as the mid-1890s Alfred Nobel foresaw a kind of total retaliation.

After the first atom bomb had been tried out in New Mexico in July 1945, the scientists who had carried out the experiment believed that the world was faced with a new opportunity of putting an end to all wars. Armed with a weapon of this kind, humanity had reached a threshold: if this threshold were crossed, both aggressor and defender would be doomed to destruction.

Total annihilation was the alternative to peace. Amid the awful terror which compelled nuclear physicists too to urge the world to come to its senses, a hope was born that disarmament and peace would have a chance.

Inevitably, in a world rent by internal dissension, world peace was made dependent on the establishment of a fearsome balance of terror between East and West.

Even on the brink of disaster wars could not be brought to an end. The old pattern was maintained in a period we have erroneously called the post-war period as well. Lives are being destroyed, property laid waste, minds darkened, and fear fermented in every corner of the world. Maybe we have gradually come to know more about the causes of war and discord; maybe we have gradually realised our share of responsibility, too, for tragedies enacted far from our own borders. It is comfort of a kind to believe this. But we have not made any appreciable progress in introducing measures to remove these causes, despite all our efforts.

On a day such as this, with the award of the Nobel Peace Prize, there are nevertheless good grounds for mentioning some of the favourable aspects of the development. In recent years both multilateral and bilateral negotiations have been initiated, with a view to promoting détente and practical cooperation. We are living in an era in which dialogue has largely replaced confrontation and isolation. Only a few years ago a negotiating pattern of this kind, of which we can now observe the contours, would have been considered entirely Utopian. The whole world pins its hopes and expectations on this exchange of views and ideas.

I can see a ray of hope in the fact that a strong and vital body of public opinion all over the world rejects violence and the abuse of power. We are witnessing a world-wide wave of opinion. Do not be misled into attributing this to war weariness, because frequently men and women who have no personal experience of war are in the forefront of this wave. Call it rather a genuine belief in peace. The climate of opinion of which I am speaking does not restrict its efforts to combating war alone. In large measure attention is drawn to social, political, and economic oppression. And this is just and right: the struggle against injustice is a blow struck in the cause of peace.

The injustice inflicted on others strikes every one of us, as fellow humans. One of the great torchbearers of our age in the struggle for human rights, the Nobel Prize winner Alexander Solzhenitsyn, has said that our aim must be to eliminate from mankind the very idea that anyone is allowed to use force against justice, law, and mutual agreements. At no time surely has this idea been more accepted and understood in ever-widening circles throughout the world than precisely in our own age. This is a hopeful sign, in a world full of terrifying future prospects.

No statesman, no government, will be in a position to act with impunity without taking this body of opinion into account.

The Nobel Committee of the Norwegian Storting is charged with the onerous task of selecting persons or institutions that merit the award of the year’s Peace Prize.

It could hardly be expected that the decisions of the Committee would not give rise to discussion. This has been the case ever since the first award was made over seventy years ago. This eloquently proves how difficult it is to define the concept of peace. On previous occasions of this nature the Nobel Committee has selected laureates whose efforts on behalf of peace have covered a great many varied fields: they have included statesmen negotiating round the conference table, defenders of human rights, experts on international law, rebels, humanists, idealists, pragmaticists, dreamers. They have all been controversial figures.

On this occasion both laureates are from countries that have previously not produced winners of the Nobel Peace Prize. In fact, Eisaku Sato is at the same time the first Asiatic who has received this prize. He comes before us today as a representative of the only nation that has experienced the unspeakable horrors of nuclear warfare. This terrible experience has left a deep imprint on the Japanese nation. But for the rest of us, too, names such as Hiroshima and Nagasaki are permanent symbols of something that we must all strive to prevent for all future time.

Seán Mac Bride is a citizen of a country that for many years has been the scene of bitter, grievous conflict. His experience has acted as a spur, urging him on in his many and varied efforts to promote international cooperation.

Each of these two Peace Prize winners represents different aspects of peace work. With the aid of the difficult art of politics and negotiation they have endeavoured by practical means to promote their ideals. The goals they have reached must constantly be achieved afresh, since the peace and the justice that the world so sorely need are constantly threatened.

Eisaku Sato was prime minister of Japan for nearly eight years, from November 1964 to June 1972, a longer span than any of his predecessors. In all democracies the position of head of government is subject to attack from many angles, and Sato was frequently the object of violent criticism. Upon assuming the post of prime minister, Sato declared that he would aim to secure for Japan an influence in international politics consistent with the country’s status as a major economic power. Observers in other countries had every reason to watch how this programme would be implemented. Would Japan, in her more active foreign policy, revert to a nationalistic approach? There were many who feared this. Increased self-assurance, resulting from economic strength, considerations of national prestige and domestic policy might well have dominated in Japan, as has been the case with other great powers.

It soon became clear that Japan would pursue a foreign policy that aimed at promoting friendship with other countries.

After the war, many nations still had vivid memories of an aggressive and militaristic Japan. Not least in countries that had experienced Japanese occupation, the feeling of distrust was considerable. With a sense of great expectation the world followed the work of appeasement on which Japan had embarked.

The basis of Japan’s foreign policy and security policy was conditioned by the obligations imposed on the country after the Second World War. The constitution Japan adopted in 1947 had expressly stated that the Japanese people renounced rights that had previously been regarded as essential to an independent nation. “War and the threat or use of force are renounced as means of deciding conflicts with other nations.” This is a unique provision in a country’s constitution. This principle was established by the American occupation authorities, and was markedly influenced by this fact. In Japan militarism was crushed in 1945, and strong pacifist tendencies made their influence felt among the people.

As head of government, Sato frequently recalled that the anti-war provision in the Constitution must serve as a basis for the country’s policy. He emphasised three principles upon which his government would base itself as far as nuclear arms were concerned:

“Never to produce arms of this nature, never to own them, and never to introduce them into Japan.”

The Japanese people have supported this peace policy laid down by Sato, reacting very forcefully to any indication that developments might proceed in another direction. From time to time it has been said that the Japanese people have developed an allergy against nuclear arms. An allergy of this kind is a healthy sign, and other countries might well learn a lesson from this.

Whenever Eisaku Sato, in his role of prime minister, emphasised, as he did on many occasions, that Japan would only pursue its goals by peaceful means, he undoubtedly expressed an opinion that had the overwhelming support of the great majority of his people.

Shortly after Sato had taken office as prime minister he set out to improve relations with South Korea. A friendship pact was signed between the two countries, and ratified in the autumn of 1965. Diplomatic relations were also immediately established between the two countries.

This agreement proved the prelude to a systematic plan for improving relations between Japan and a number of other states in the Pacific area. In the autumn of 1967 Sato set off on a protracted tour, in the course of which he visited, among other countries, Burma, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Laos, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, and South Vietnam. The objects of his journey were to strengthen friendly relations, stimulate trade, and inaugurate discussions, with a view to promoting political cooperation and a more active cultural exchange. It is widely accepted that increased trade is one of the best ways of promoting international understanding. Once a start is made in this practical field, and mutual interests are discovered, the road will be clear for increased contact in other spheres as well. This approach, as we all know, has played a major role in East-West relations in recent years. In Asia Japan, under the leadership of Sato, set out to improve trade relations, increase aid to developing countries, and encourage a greater measure of regional cooperation. Japan was responsible for initiating a ministerial conference for economic development in South-East Asia, as well as actively promoting measures to ensure the realisation of the International Development Bank for Asia. Japan has herself been among the major contributors to this bank, on the assumption that the country carries a special responsibility for the promotion of peace in this area. In Sato’s opinion an important factor in this respect was that countries would be in a better position to exploit their material and cultural resources.

The Japanese friendship policy was faced with a fundamental difficulty from the very start, inter alia because Japan’s close treaty relations with the USA were criticised in certain quarters, particularly during the Vietnam war. Not only did Japan refrain from any military participation in Vietnam, but Eisaku Sato urged the belligerents to come together, without imposing conditions of any kind, in order to discuss a truce and peace. War would never solve the political problems, Sato declared in his speech to the Japanese National Assembly in July 1965. An attempt on the part of the Japanese Government to investigate the possibilities for a peace initiative proved abortive in the spring of 1966.

As head of government, it fell to Sato’s lot to maintain a balance between conflicting interests. While adhering to the treaty with the USA, he also demanded greater independence. It was particularly important for the Japanese people to reach agreement with the United States on the return of the groups of islands that the USA had occupied since the end of the Second World War. After five years of ceaseless endeavour Sato succeeded in coming to an arrangement whereby Japan was given sovereignty over Okinawa and the Ogasawara Islands. His success in doing so helped to remove a serious source of friction in relations between the two countries; at the same time it also helped to strengthen stability throughout this area, and to convince the Japanese people that their foreign political aims could best be achieved through the medium of negotiation, and not by aggressive acts or threats.

It was of particular importance to Japan that the agreement ensured that no nuclear arms would be stationed on the American bases on Okinawa. The agreement, when it was negotiated in 1951, could be hailed as a step in the direction of fulfilling the Japanese wish to safeguard its national security. Both the security agreement and the actual peace pact presupposed that Japan would have the right to self-defence, and the right to participate in collective security compacts in accordance with the United Nations Charter. It is on this basis that Japan’s defence system is founded. It is generally accepted that during the years that have subsequently elapsed Japan has shown considerable restraint in this field. No great power has shown a corresponding degree of moderation; in fact, a great many small countries maintain military forces that are very much larger and stronger than the Japanese. No single politician in Japan deserves the sole credit for this. The Japanese people’s opposition to any form of military resurgence is so strong that no other policy would have been feasible.

In relations with the Soviet Union, too, marked improvements were registered during Sato’s term of office. No peace agreement was concluded with the Russians, because the latter insisted on the right to the islands in the North Kurils, a claim no Japanese government could accept. But during Sato’s term of office cooperation was continued in the sphere of foreign policy and trade, not least after an exchange of visits by the foreign ministers of the two countries.

No diplomatic relations were established between the Chinese People’s Republic and Japan. In common with a great many other countries, the Japanese Government pursued a policy, which entailed recognition of Formosa. In spite of this, several important points of contact were established between Tokyo and Peking. In connection with the Bandung Conference in April 1965 Prime Minister Sato’s special envoy had a conversation with Prime Minister Chou En-lai in which the Japanese desire for closer contact with the People’s Republic was expressed. Despite political obstacles, trade between the two countries increased, and the outside world noted inter alia that Japanese journalists were allowed to work in Peking during the Cultural Revolution, whereas journalists from most other countries were obliged to leave the People’s Republic. On a number of occasions Sato spoke of the need to hold the door to Peking open. However, as long as Japan maintained recognition of the regime in Formosa it was impossible to establish diplomatic relations with Peking. Nevertheless it was of importance to the international atmosphere that relations between the two states should all this time have been marked by a sense of restraint.

In several disputes in Asia, particularly in the conflict between India and Pakistan and that between Malaysia and Indonesia, Sato intervened personally in order to persuade the parties involved to settle their differences. The payment of considerable sums, by way of compensation, to countries that had suffered under the Japanese occupation, was another factor that contributed greatly to improving relations with other countries during Sato’s ministry. Long-standing differences were mitigated, and new mutual “interests” were created. The good-neighbour policy, of which Sato was the chief exponent, was well received in large areas of Asia. That the economic influence of the Japanese should have been the source of dispute and have encountered resistance in no way alters the overall impression.

In awarding the Peace Prize for 1974 to Eisaku Sato the Nobel Committee wishes to emphasise the important role the Japanese people have played in promoting close and friendly cooperation with other nations. Japan’s attitude has helped to strengthen peace in East Asia, and to lay the foundation for economic growth and progress for many countries. By countering the tendency towards a nationalistic policy in Japan after the war, by constantly emphasising the need for international cooperation and understanding, by playing the role of arbitrator and thus helping to iron out differences, Sato has made a major contribution to peace.

The Nobel Committee has attached considerable importance to the statements Eisaku Sato has made in which he has affirmed his determination to adhere to his doctrine that Japan shall never own, produce, or acquire nuclear arms. At a time of increasing risk that more and more nations will acquire weapons of this kind, it is important that Japan, under Sato’s leadership, signed a pact on the non-proliferation of nuclear arms in February 1970.

At that time Sato declared that it was in conformity with Japan’s national aims to prevent arms of this kind being acquired by more states. The aim was to ease international tension, establish friendly relations with every country, and help to set up international contacts that would promote the cause of peace. It was Sato’s hope that the non-proliferation agreement would be followed up by effective measures resulting in a reduction of the number of nuclear arms in the world. He also emphasised the importance of ensuring that this pact should be the prelude to practical progress in promoting general disarmament.

The non-proliferation agreement has as yet not been ratified by Japan, although the government that succeeded Sato’s, confirmed as recently as in the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly this year that it would work to achieve this. The responsibility for future decisions is not vested in any one individual; I should like to emphasise that the attitude of the Japanese people may well prove decisive in shaping future developments. It is the hope of the Nobel Committee that this year’s award will be interpreted as an encouragement to all who work to ensure that the non-proliferation agreement will receive the widest possible support.

Peace-loving people throughout the world cherish the hope that the future development of Asia will proceed without the fear of war and the resort to force. May the hope that the Pacific Ocean will become a real ocean of peace be realised! In this development Japan’s role is of decisive importance.

The other Peace Prize winner this year is the Irishman Seán Mac Bride, who was born in Paris on January 26, 1904. As a young man he witnessed the Irish struggle for independence, with all its horrors. This experience was in many ways to prove an abiding influence. After working as a journalist for a number of years he studied law, and qualified to practise in 1937. This enabled him to work more effectively for the legal rights of persecuted individuals. After the Second World War he entered the Irish National Assembly, the Dail Eireann, of which he was a member from 1947 to 1958. From 1948 to 1951 he was Ireland’s foreign minister. This was at a time when the Council of Europe was drafting the European Convention on Human Rights. The object of this work was to secure the acceptance of a convention in which human rights would for the first time be accorded universal international protection. It was a great day in European history when the convention was finally signed by the foreign ministers of member states in Rome on November 4, 1950. Mac Bride played a dominant role in piloting this convention through to a successful conclusion. From now on he was to devote his entire life to the work of promoting greater respect for human rights, not only in West Europe, but throughout the world. In speeches and in articles he urged the authorities of every country to negotiate and abide by international agreements guaranteeing the rights of the individual.

In 1961 he was elected President of the International Board of Amnesty International, and for many years he was active as the fearless and vigorous head of this organisation, visiting a great many countries to plead the cause of persecuted men and women, taking up the cudgels against torture, and urging a sense  of greater humanity and neighbourly love. His field of activity covered Asia, Africa, and America. His most important standby in this campaign was his own energy and enthusiasm, and the support he received from countless voluntary helpers in many countries. He mobilised the conscience of the world in the fight against injustice. The organisation of which he was the leader gradually achieved wider recognition and greater influence. With unflagging zeal he tackled new and fresh tasks. Mac Bride himself knows that it may take a long time to create the change in the mental climate which in the last resort will provide the only sure guarantee against brutality and arbitrary encroachment on individual liberty. But he knows, too, that there are countless people all over the world who consider themselves bound by their conscience to play their part in this struggle.

Mac Bride has worked both on the ideological and theoretical plane and in the practical sphere. He has combined the duties of an organisational leader and a field worker. In his work to protect and strengthen human rights he has achieved a unique position. As Secretary General of the International Commission of Jurists from 1963 to 1970 he was also extremely active.

This commission was set up in West Berlin in 1952, its original aims being to record acts of injustice perpetrated in East Germany and other East European countries. But in time the commission became active in the work of countering violations of human rights in every country. A number of leading jurists from various countries joined the commission. Norway was represented by Terje Wold, at that time President of the Norwegian High Court of Justice. The International Commission of Jurists, which issues several valuable publications, has gained great respect for its activities, and has maintained close contact with the United Nations Organisations. An expression of the esteem in which the commission is held is afforded by the fact that over fifty countries, including Norway, make voluntary contributions to its work.

Seán Mac Bride was extremely active as Secretary General, and contributed in large measure to enhancing the reputation of the commission.

He has always emphasised the importance of extending and enforcing the legislative obligations to protect personal rights. The individual state must assume obligations of this kind both in its own national legislation and also as an integrated part of international conventions. In this way, he believes, international law can be developed and extended to provide a guarantee of greater protection for the individual. When Seán Mac Bride participated in a Nobel symposium in Oslo in September 1967, for example, he launched the idea of establishing a convention among the nations of East Europe for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The convention contracted by the member-states of the European Council was to provide a pattern for a convention of the kind he envisaged. By means of regional agreements of this kind he hoped it would be possible to bring about a real measure of progress in the work of securing such rights. He also maintained that a great deal could be done to ensure that UNO’s Declaration of Human Rights became a living reality. His ideal would be the establishment of a universal Human Rights Court, with the authority to deal with complaints from individuals who were being subjected to persecution in violation of the universally accepted principles of justice. Seán Mac Bride is of the opinion that no state can claim absolute national sovereignty where human rights that are universally recognised are concerned. Rights of this kind are the common property of all mankind; the authorities of a country have no right to violate these fundamental individual rights. We still have a long way to go before we can reach this goal; but Mac Bride has emphasised the value of discussing this idea, since a process of this kind in itself serves to stimulate afresh our sense of neighbourly love and respect for our fellow human beings.

Every violation of human dignity, no matter where it occurs, is an affront to humanity itself.

Mac Bride’s active participation in organised peace work of a great many kinds, inter alia in the International Peace Bureau, is widely known and recognised. The history of the Peace Bureau goes right back to the year 1892: it was established as a parent body for the many pacifist associations that existed all over the world and was to play an important part in the setting up of the League of Nations. After the Second World War the Bureau was reorganised, but its objectives remain unchanged, viz. to promote international understanding and nonviolent solutions to international conflicts.

The Peace Bureau was awarded the Nobel Prize as far back as 1910. Over the years Mac Bride has occupied various leading positions of trust within this organisation.

True to his entire attitude to the obligations of international cooperation Mac Bride launched at an early stage the idea of establishing a High Commissariat in the United Nations for the protection of individual rights. This question has been debated for a number of years in UNO’s committees and in the General Assembly. Norway is one of the countries that has most actively supported this proposal. Discussions in UNO last year and this year unfortunately reveal that we still have a long way to go before it will be possible to realise this idea. In the meantime the work will have to be continued, with a view to making steady if slow progress towards this goal.

During UNO’s Human Rights Year in 1968 Mac Bride took the initiative in setting up a joint committee for the various non-governmental organisations that championed the cause of human rights. He himself was placed in command of this cooperative venture, which proved capable of exercising greater influence with its concerted efforts. His skill as a practical negotiator is widely recognised and respected, and his powers of conviction and idealism have been in evidence at countless conferences and meetings.

For over twenty years Mac Bride has occupied a central position in the work of promoting the cause of human rights. He has seen his efforts crowned with success. All over the world his exacting message, which in its simplest form is akin to the classical “Love thy Neighbour”, has found an audience. That respect for human rights is growing, despite all that we know still remains to be done, is due not least to the endeavours of Mac Bride.

In awarding this year’s Peace Prize to Seán Mac Bride the Nobel Committee of the Norwegian Storting is paying its tribute to an advocate and champion of this important work for peace. The Committee is convinced that Mac Bride’s numerous friends and supporters all over the world will share with him his pleasure on this day, which is actually Human Rights Day. On previous occasions the Nobel Committee has had an opportunity of awarding the prize to others who have made a great contribution to the cause of human rights. The name of Seán Mac Bride takes its place in this circle of Peace Prize laureates who have shown humanity the way through the darkness.

Mac Bride is at present facing a new and demanding task as UN’s High Commissioner for Namibia. He has personally expressed optimism with regard to the future prospects of this work. The world will follow his future work in the service of the United Nations with anticipation and expectation.

From Nobel Lectures, Peace 1971-1980, Editor-in-Charge Tore Frängsmyr, Editor Irwin Abrams, World Scientific Publishing Co., Singapore, 1997


Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 1974

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