The Nobel Peace Prize: from peace negotiations to human rights


by Francis Sejersted*
Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, 1991-1999

Alfred Nobel’s will

In 1895 Alfred Bernhard Nobel drew up a will according to which his wealth was to be devoted to the annual award of five prizes “to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind.” That three of the five prizes were for scientific work is a reflection, not only of Nobel’s own interest in science, but also of the widespread belief at the time in the considerable benefits that science would unfailingly confer on mankind, materially and otherwise. The Literary Prize shows Nobel’s profound interest in literature, which he had cultivated from childhood. Certainly the most surprising aspect of the will was that one of the prizes was to be awarded for peace work. Of course this reflected Nobel’s interest in politics and the cause of peace. But it also reveals the influence of what in modern parlance one might call his “network”, including Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, and of his friend, the author and peace activist Bertha von Suttner. Bjørnson became a member of the Peace Prize Committee and won the Literature Prize in 1903, and von Suttner was awarded the Peace Prize in 1905, 9 years after Nobel’s death. She was the first woman to receive the Peace Prize.

There are also some signs of what we might call a compensation mechanism. Although the bulk of Nobel’s fortune had resulted from the production of explosives for civil uses, his inventions also led to substantially improved military technology. The dilemma was in the air and Nobel, a man of the highest moral standards, was deeply concerned. At one time, possibly in an attempt to justify his work to himself and to those around him, he developed a doctrine of deterrence, or a theory of the balance of terror. The argument was that his explosives could bring about peace precisely because they made war so brutal. Whether he really believed in this deterrent effect is not clear. However that may be, his decision to set up a peace prize can be taken as a sign of his genuine commitment to peace and his belief that any deterrent must be supplemented by active work for peace.

Why Norway?

In addition to the surprising decision to establish a Peace Prize, the will also laid down that it was to be awarded in Norway by a five-member committee appointed by the Norwegian Storting (the legislative assembly). The other four prizes were to be awarded in Sweden, Nobel’s own country, and by Swedish institutions. So why Norway? We have no definitive answer to this question, since Nobel himself never provided any explanation. We need to remember, however, that Norway and Sweden were joined in a union at the time, and that Nobel himself must have regarded the two countries as a unit, however difficult this may have been for Norwegians to understand, engaged as they were in their struggle for full national independence. Assuming that Norway and Sweden were to be regarded as a unit, letting the Norwegian Storting award the Prize was no unnatural choice. It was known as a liberal institution, and had been profoundly involved in the question of international arbitration and in the work of the Interparliamentary Union, which can be seen as a precursor of such organizations as the League of Nations and the United Nations.

Relations between the Peace Prize Committee and the Norwegian political establishment were originally close. Jørgen Løvland, who chaired the committee from 1901 to 1922, combined the position with terms both as Prime Minister (1907-08) and as Foreign Minister (1905-07). The possibly damaging effects of such links became clear in due course, however, and in 1937 the Storting resolved that no one must have a seat in the Government and on the Committee at the same time. The decision was triggered by the events of the preceding year, when the Peace Prize was awarded to Carl von Ossietzky, the anti-militarist who had been imprisoned in Hitler Germany. Foreign Minister Halvdan Koht, who was then a member, wrote to the committee asking to be relieved. Ossietsky’s candidacy was being supported by a major campaign, which was headed by – among others – the future Peace Prize Laureate Willy Brandt, and had many influential persons both in Europe and America behind it. Koht himself was critical of fascism, but anticipated the difficulties which might arise if, as the Foreign Minister of a small neutral country near Germany, he was to act in the capacity of member of the committee which might decide to award the prize to Ossietzky. It has since emerged that Ossietzky was not Koht’s preferred candidate. The person who did most to bring about the decision in Ossietzky’s favour was the Labour Leader Martin Tranmæl, who joined the committee when Koht withdrew.

Political effects

As the 1937 decision shows, political problems could arise if the award of the Peace Prize was seen as an official Norwegian act. The practice of appointing prominent members of the Storting to the committee continued nonetheless – right up to the dramatic year 1973, when Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho were awarded the Peace Prize for their contributions to the peace negotiations in Vietnam. Le Duc Tho declined to receive the prize, the only occasion on which this has ever happened, and the choice of Kissinger may have been the most severely criticised decision in the history of the prize. The criticism must of course be seen as a criticism of America’s war in Vietnam, Kissinger being more strongly associated with the war than with the peace. In the wake of the award, two members withdrew from the committee, not so much because they had voted against the choice of Kissinger and Duc Tho as because of the way the chairman had tackled the situation. From that year on, it has been an unwritten rule that not even members of the Storting have seats on the committee. This is intended to demonstrate the committee’s complete independence. Although a majority of the members are still prominent politicians, they have all left the political arena.

I have cited the general clause in Nobel’s will saying that the prizes should be given to those who “in the preceding year have conferred the greatest benefit on makind.” With regard to the Peace Prize, Nobel defined this as having “done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies, and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.” The most difficult stipulation to live up to has undoubtedly been “in the preceding year.” This is now understood to indicate the most recent contributions in the various cultural fields to which the will refers. Where the Peace Prize is concerned, the wording has been seen as opening up opportunities to engage in processes which have not yet reached a conclusion, but where there has been clear evidence of progress, as in the democratisation process in South Africa or the peace process in the Middle East, for which the Peace Prizes were awarded in 1993 and 1994. The Prize awarded in 1998 to John Hume and David Trimble of Northern Ireland can be seen in the same light. The Prize, in other words, is not only for past achievement, although that is the most important criterion. The committee also takes the possible positive effects of its choices into account. Among the reasons for adding this as a criterion is the obvious point that Nobel wanted the Prize to have political effects. Awarding a Peace Prize is, to put it bluntly, a political act – which is also the reason why the choices so often stir up controversy.

Humanitarian work

The mention in the will of the “abolition or reduction of standing armies, and the holding and promotion of peace congresses” reflects the period in which the will was written. The approach today is to see it as pointing to general disarmament and the dissemination of the concept of peace. The most important provision, however, is contained in the term “fraternity between nations.” This general and open provision has provided a basis for the wide definition of peace-related work which the committee has applied right from the start. The first Peace Prize, awarded in 1901, was accordingly shared between the Swiss founder of the Red Cross, Henry Dunant, and the French peace activist Frédéric Passy, one of the founders of the Interparliamentary Union. The inclusion of humanitarian work was promptly criticised as irrelevant to peace, inter alia by representatives of the peace movement. It has nevertheless remained an important criterion right up to the present. Several of the awards which have been most favourably received have been given precisely in honour of humanitarian work. This is true of the award to Mother Teresa in 1979 no less than of the prize given to Fridtjof Nansen in 1922 for his work as High Commissioner for Refugees under the League of Nations. The UN High Commissioner descends in a direct line from what Nansen built up. The peace Nobel envisaged when he founded the Peace Prize is the peace which is rooted in people’s hearts and minds. The humanitarian aid worker is the human face seen by the individual victim of war, the manifestation of respect for that individual’s human dignity, and thereby the embodiment of the best hope of peace and reconciliation. This gets to the roots of the absolutely fundamental prerequisites for peace. The decision to award the first Peace Prize for humanitarian work was one of the most important decisions in the history of the Peace Prize. Today, “humanitarian intervention” (with or without military support) is one of the most important factors in international peace work. The last century’s last prize, to Médecins Sans Frontières, was also first and foremost a prize for humanitarian work.

Organized peace movements

The broad range of criteria applied from the start has not prevented changes over time. In the period up to the first World War, prizes to the organized peace movement predominated. That tradition has been maintained, if not on the same scale. The 1995 award to Joseph Rotblat and the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs was in that mould and, let me add, very much in the spirit of Nobel’s will. That year’s Laureates typically combine a striving for disarmament, especially nuclear disarmament, and efforts to find other solutions to international conflicts than war. They combined idealism and practical solutions. Another close link between that year’s choice and the origins of the Peace Prize is that Pugwash is largely an organization of scientists, whose participation in the organization is rooted in a profound sense of the social and moral responsibility of science. It is precisely in this respect that Rotblat is a leading example – and a close parallel to Nobel’s own concerns and ideals.

Peace negotiations

The most controversial choices have been active politicians or statesmen, often selected on the grounds of a particular act, or an intervention in a particular situation, rather than because of a lifelong effort for peace. The controversy over the choice of Kissinger has already been mentioned. The first Laureate in this category was President Theodore Roosevelt. His award in 1906 was given for his “happy intervention to terminate the bloody war recently waged between two Great Powers, Japan and Russia” to quote the committee’s own words. The decision was highly controversial. It was ironic, as one American newspaper wrote, that “the wielder of the ‘big stick’ should be crowned as America’s great pacificator.”

The inter-war years were the period in which major politicians predominated as Laureates, beginning with Woodrow Wilson, the second American president to win the Prize, among other things, for his decisive efforts to establish the League of Nations. His big disappointment in that connection was that his own country, the United States, refused to join the League, which for that reason was fatally weakened.

Wilson was an idealist, a man of the highest moral standards and a true peace-lover – more so than Theodore Roosevelt, perhaps one might add. Nevertheless, even the choice of Wilson was controversial. He had been nominated in 1918, before the war was over, but the committee had decided not to award a prize that year. In 1919, after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, his candidacy came up for discussion again, but the committee reserved the prize for the following year. In 1920 he was finally given the Peace Prize for 1919. But we have learned from a member’s diary that his choice had been strongly opposed in the committee in connection with the so-called “treachery” relating to the Treaty of Versailles. Wilson had been obliged to compromise, with the result that his vision of a “peace without victory” had been undermined.

Both the Presidents won the Peace Prize for their efforts in connection with particular peace negotiations. In Wilson’s case there was also the matter of institutional arrangements intended to secure the peace in the long term. As mentioned, Wilson did not succeed in realising his visions. The League of Nations did not gain the support he had hoped for, while the peace at Versailles effectively amounted to punishment or revenge. Contrary to Wilson’s policy, Germany was to be humiliated by having huge compensation payments imposed on it. With hindsight, we can see that the conflict was “resolved” in the worst possible way. It can be argued that the conditions laid down in the Versailles Treaty paved the way for Nazism in Germany.

The peace concluded after World War II was completely different, as the war had been. Although it had been waged as total war, or perhaps precisely for that reason, the peace terms were not vindictive. A policy of reconciliation with the German nation was combined with the isolation and prosecution of individual war criminals. States (or perhaps better nations) were given differing treatments. This is an example of the introduction of principles that are new in an international context, like the principles of human rights and individual responsibility. The problem which this procedure after the second world war put on the agenda, and which is more pressing today than ever, is what is the right attitude to take to a past marked by extensive breaches of fundamental human rights? What settlement can be reached with a heritage of conflict and brutality? To what extent does reconciliation depend on amnesty, on winking at crime instead of demanding justice – assuming any justice were possible?

Policy of reconciliation

The Peace Prize has on some occasions been awarded to representatives of two parties to a conflict who have agreed to break out of the vicious circle of violence in order to move towards peace and reconciliation. The prize awarded to Kissinger and Duc Tho has been mentioned, and we could add those to Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat in 1978, to Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin in 1994, to Frederik Willem de Klerk and Nelson Mandela in 1993, and to John Hume and David Trimble in 1998. The problem with these awards has been that some of the Laureates have been partly responsible for the war, violence or repression that preceded the decision to break out of the vicious circle. However, only the first of the awards mentioned met with more criticism than support (assuming this can be measured). So it looks as if the committee’s policy of honouring what can be interpreted as real conversions to a peace strategy is being met with understanding and support.

In processes like these, temporary setbacks have to be expected: the time may prove not to have been ripe for reconciliation after all, as we may be finding in the Middle East and in Northem Ireland. In South Africa further steps have been taken, creating a somewhat different situation. The future of South Africa will depend among other things on the extent to which the policy launched by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission headed by Peace Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu (1984) gains acceptance in the long run. Since the appointment of the Chilean Truth Commission in 1991, there have been numerous similar initiatives all over the world. Note that the term “justice” does not figure in the names of these commissions. One of the lessons we have learned is indeed how controversial the demand for justice is, how difficult it is to deal with. The South African commission was based on the principle that amnesty would be given to all those who were completely open about their actions under the preceding repressive regime. The condition was that they confessed within a certain deadline. The situation in the former Yugoslavia confronts us with the same problem: how far is justice a prerequisite for reconciliation and peace, or when does the demand for justice become a barrier to reconciliation? Where does the line go between the wish for revenge and the demand for justice, and how should one weigh forgiveness against punishment? When are we ready for a truth commission, and when for a war crimes tribunal?

The Norwegian Nobel Committee is of course familiar with these contradictions, with the difficulties of balancing conflicting considerations when confronted with a past marked by violence and violations of human rights. In fact it has paid tribute both to work for justice and to efforts to achieve peace on the basis of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Struggle for human rights

It is striking that although the committee based its work right from the start in 1901 on a broad range of criteria for what is relevant to peace, the struggle for human rights was for a long time not among those criteria. The first real human rights prize went to the South African chieftain Albert Lutuli in 1960. Since then, the list of prominent human rights campaigners among the Laureates has become a long one: Martin Luther King (1964), René Cassin (1968), Seán Mac Bride (1974), Andrei Sakharov (1975), Adolfo Pérez Esquivel (1980), Lech Wałęsa (1983), Desmond Tutu (1984), Elie Wiesel (1986), Dalai Lama (1989), Aung San Suu Kyi (1991), Rigoberta Menchú Tum (1992), and Carlos Belo and José Ramos-Horta (1996). Some won the prize for their non-violent struggle against racial discrimination (Lutuli, Luther King and Tutu), and some for their efforts to establish international human rights organizations (Cassin, Mac Bride, Amnesty International (1977)), but most were given the award for peaceful but effective struggles for civil and political rights in their own countries. Even prizes of this kind have been controversial. For one thing, they tend to arouse displeasure in the countries affected, as we saw in Indonesia in 1996 when Belo and Ramos-Horta from East Timor won the Prize. Some, like Sakharov, Wałęsa, and Suu Kyi, have been unable to come to Oslo to receive the Prize. But human rights awards have also been criticised as irrelevant to peace. Sometimes it has been claimed that they have aggravated conflicts instead of leading to peace. And in some cases the prize has in fact provoked conflict in the short term. The point, however, has lain in the symbolic effect of the adoption of a courageous stance for human rights, on the fundamental assumption that a lasting peace must be based on respect for the human rights of the individual.

Why the struggle for human rights was not considered a criterion before 1960 is an interesting question. Nobel himself evidently did not take it into consideration when writing his will in 1895. Nor did the committee when it began its work in 1901. It included humanitarian work, as we have seen, but not efforts aimed at human rights. The concept of human rights was of long standing. It had been developed and given a special form as a cornerstone of the western world’s constitutional democracies. But it had not played any part in international politics. So why did it find a place on the international political agenda after World War II? Why had the struggle for human rights not been regarded as relevant to peace before then? The main reason is sufficiently clear. It lay in the new threat posed by the twentieth century’s totalitarian regimes, and more particularly in the experience of total war with ethnic cleansing and other horrors, all within the western world. This was a fundamentally new situation. History had taken a turn that forced a reassessment of the foundations of international order. That was how the West saw it, and it was in the West that the agenda was drawn up. How the new principles were applied in Nuremberg has already been mentioned.

The reassessment found its first expression in the United Nations Charter, in which the safeguarding of human rights has a prominent place. Close reading of the Charter, however, reveals the problems involved in basing international politics on respect for human rights. And those problems also help to account for the long delay. There is a contradiction, or at least tension, between the emphasis on non-intervention and the sovereignty of each individual state on the one hand and regard for human rights on the other. The latter necessarily suggests some form or other of international control of how individual states treat their nationals. The difficulty continues to confront us today.

For a full understanding of the problem, we need to remember how important the principle of non-intervention had been considered to be in the work for peace. This entailed a ban on the use of military force against other states (except in self-defence). A ban on wars of aggression had been incorporated in the Geneva Protocol in 1924, but only ratified by a few countries. The path towards anything like recognition of such a principle, even if only among the Western democracies, has thus been long and difficult. A typical illustration can be taken from the mid-19th century, when Carl Johan, king of Sweden-Norway, spoke of the “conqueror’s right”, implying that war creates positive law. That was a legacy from feudal society. Although we are still labouring under a practice of conquest, arguments resting on an alleged “conqueror’s right” are no longer accepted as valid in an international context. And so history goes on developing: new problems emerge as we try to solve the old ones.

The human rights obligations of states were further strengthened in 1948 by the Declaration of Human Rights, which stated that “the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” From then on, human rights obligations became an established part of international law, and they have been steadily extended by new instruments, which have been ratified to varying degrees. Despite this development we know of course that there has been no lack of breaches of human rights or of tense confrontations over their interpretation.

When the Norwegian Nobel Committee included the struggle for human rights among the criteria for relevance to peace, it was merely following a general trend, and indeed did so hesitantly, seeing that it was not until 1960 that the criterion was used as a decisive argument in connection with a Peace Prize award. It should be recalled, however, that the committee does not issue general statements of principle. Like a court of law, it only deals with concrete individual cases. Principles are only referred to in connection with particular cases.

Global prize

A survey of the whole history of the Peace Prize shows that the vast majority of the Laureates have been white men of Western origin. In a more dynamic perspective, however, one can see a development in recent decades towards a more global prize, with regard to both geography and gender. The globalization of the Peace Prize has paralleled its increasing prestige, and there is probably a connection: our view of the world has changed, it has grown smaller. However great Nobel’s vision, it was not without its limitations. At that time, the Third World was in some respects below the white man’s horizon. Nobel’s own words expose the limited perspective of even the cosmopolitans of that era. He wrote: “It is my express wish that in awarding the prizes no consideration whatever shall be given to the nationality of the candidates, but that the most worthy shall receive the prize, whether he be a Scandinavian or not.”

The question can nevertheless be asked whether or how far it is possible to escape one’s own cultural background when evaluating the work of candidates from all over the world. Do we share the same values with regard to peace wherever we come from? Do we share the same ideas of human rights? And if we don’t, how can a citizen of a small western country like Norway evaluate the nationals of other countries on their own terms? Must a Nobel Peace Prize inevitably to some extent reflect a western world view?

In 1988, the Norwegian Nobel Institute held a symposium on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights. The theme was how human rights could be secured in the future, and leading experts from many countries contributed. The symposium came at a time which has been referred to as “the last phase of an era of stagnation for human rights.” The international political discussion of human rights was still marked by set arguments and sterile manoeuvring, not only between East and West but also between North and South. But at that point, the picture began to change so rapidly that the symposium papers had to be revised for publication to remain abreast of international political developments. When they finally were published in 1993, the editors wrote in their introduction that “the situation for the protection and promotion of human rights has improved dramatically since the symposium took place.” 1993 represented the high-water mark of optimism, and since then the situation has changed yet again. But I see no need for undue pessimism. The new development can be seen as a revival of the earlier debate on to what extent human rights can be said to be universal. Among those raising the question have been representatives of Asian countries that have embarked on processes of economic modernisation, like China, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. Their view was stated in the Bangkok Declaration of 1993, which says that “while human rights are universal in nature, they must be considered in the context of a dynamic and evolving process of international norm-setting, bearing in mind the significance of national and regional peculiarities and various historical, cultural and religious backgrounds.”

Universalism and relativism

What does this really say? Violations of human rights, sometimes gross violations, certainly occur in those countries, and the declaration can be read as an attempt to water down the human rights concept so as to deprive it of any merit as a standard for evaluation. The declaration has also been criticised as representing only the language of power. On the other hand, it would be right to say that the reason why the earlier debate had reached a dead end was that it all too clearly reflected an attempt to universalise western ways of realising human rights ideals. In order to render the ideals universal in nature, one must resort to interpretations, negotiation, and adaptations to particular cases. They have to be integrated into, different cultures. This is not to say, however, that blatant breaches of human rights can be explained away by relativistic arguments or references to cultural conditioning. What we must do is to try to listen to the voices of the victims. What, for instance, would the 200,000 Asian victims of Indonesian repression in East Timor have had to say about the so-called “Asian values” – had they been able to speak? The ultimate touchstone must be whether developments are moving towards harmonisation, towards fewer threats and less fear.

The Peace Prize Committee is in a privileged position in as much as it does not have to solve the universalism/relativism problem at the general level. But the problem is there. The selection of individual prize-winners is never easy, but the focus on particular cases does make it possible to take into consideration the whole range of relevant factors, whether of a universalist or culturally related kind, and to strike a balance. The Laureate will symbolise good will and purity of heart all over the world, but the choice must also win sympathy in his or her own cultural environment. It is the committee’s experience that it is possible to find worthy candidates who represent universal ideals of human rights in the most varied cultures. The choices of Aung San Suu Kyi and Carlos Belo are strong testimony.

Moral concept

Emphasis has been given above to the broad definition of work for peace. But what about the concept of peace itself? In his well-known essay “Zum ewigen Frieden”, written over 200 years ago, Immanuel Kant described a prophetic vision of the possibility of a war of extermination which would open the way, as he wrote, to “eternal peace in mankind’s graveyard”. That is clearly not the kind of peace we seek to honour, but the phrase does serve to spotlight the concept of peace in all its problematic aspects. “Peace” can be taken as a technical term, denoting the absence of war. But what are we to make in that connection of peace based on threats and fear? It takes us back to deterrence and the terror balance. Ought peace of that kind to be honoured? Nobel himself, as we saw, had toyed with the idea, but had found it contrary to his idea of a peace prize, as we see in his specific mention of “the abolition or reduction of standing armies.” We do not know whether he had read Kant’s famous essay, but his wording is similar. Kant reminds us that standing armies “constantly threaten other states with war simply by virtue of the fact that they are prepared for it.” His message was that a technical peace based on a balance of terror is fragile. Lasting peace must have other foundations. It may be worth recalling that the period when the balance of terror was at its height is not only referred to as a period of peace but just as often as a period of “cold war”. And it certainly does not correspond to Nobel’s conceptions of disarmament and fraternisation. Many committee members would no doubt agree that under certain circumstances a military threat can be an effective way of securing peace in the short term. But that is not the kind of peace that the Nobel Prize seeks to honour.

The point is this: the concept of peace on which both Nobel’s will and the Nobel Committee’s practice are founded is a moral concept. This is also what makes it reasonable to suppose that Nobel himself would have supported the inclusion of the struggle for human rights as a criterion for the Peace Prize. As I have already mentioned, the peace to be honoured is a peace that is rooted in hearts and minds; the work to be credited is work for fraternisation, tolerance, trust and understanding. But it also includes efforts to establish institutional environments which help human beings to realise their better selves, or “to combat the evil principle in themselves,” to return to Kant’s formulation. Laureates must be more than skilled diplomats; it is important for them also to be able to stand out as symbols of good will. Only then can the Peace Prize contribute, in the words of Laureate Elie Wiesel, “to turning history into a moral endeavour.”

Symbols of goodwill

Why has the Nobel Peace Prize acquired such enormous prestige? There are many peace prizes, some of them worth large amounts of money. But none of them have so far matched the Nobel Prize in prestige. This is partly fortuitous, and also a question of the age of the Prize. But it must also be attributed to the assumption underlying what we have been discussing, which is that the broad range of criteria always includes what I have called a strong moral element. It appears to be precisely this type of prize which has the potential to attract people’s attention. There also appears to be a self-reinforcing element here: widespread attention attracts still more attention. Many people, in short, feel a need for symbols that can appeal to their better instincts, or (Kant again) help them to overcome the evil principle in themselves. The choices of Peace Prize Laureates appear to have succeeded in some measure in creating symbols of this kind, whether the Laureate is a humanitarian aid worker like Mother Teresa or Fridtjof Nansen, an antimilitarist like Carl von Ossietzky, a statesman like Woodrow Wilson or Willy Brandt, or a campaigner for human rights like Nelson Mandela or Carlos Belo. I think this goes a long way towards explaining the prestige of the Prize. When all is said and done, the most important effect of the Nobel Peace Prize may be that it has succeeded in creating clear symbols which appeal to our best instincts – symbols of good will.

Translated by Peter Bilton.

* Francis Sejersted, born February 8, 1936. Received his Cand. philol. from the University of Oslo in 1965. Docent in History at the University of Oslo in 1917. Professor in Economic and Social History at the University of Oslo, 1973-1998. Director, Centre for Technology and Culture, University of Oslo, 1988-1998. Fellow, Institute for Social Research, Oslo, from 1999. Dr. hc. Linköping University, Sweden, 2000. Member of the board, Instutute for comparative cultural studies, Norway, 1974-1982. Member, Det Norske Videnskaps-Akademi (The Norwegian Academy of Sciences) from 1976. Member of the board, Fondet for dansk-norsk samarbeid (The Foundation for Danish-Norwegian Cooperation), 1978-1993, chairman in 1988-1993. President, The Scandinavian Association for Economic and Social History, 1979-1982. Member, Den norske nobelkomite (The Norwegian Nobel Committee), 1982-1999, chaiman in 1991-1999.

Editor and coauthor: Vandringer (Migrations) Oslo, 1980; Vekst gjennom krise (Growth through Depression. Studies in the History of Technology in Norway), Oslo, 1982; Teknologi og kultur (Technology and Culture), Oslo, 1991; Oljevirksomheten som teknologiutviklingsprosjekt (The Oil Industry as a Project of Technological Development) co-authored by Odd-Einar Olson, Oslo, 1997.

Published books include: Norges Bank og Høykonjukturen i 1840-årene (The Bank of Norway and the Boom in the 1840s), Oslo, 1968; Den vanskelige frihet (The Difficult Freedom. Vol. X in a general history of Norway covering the period 1814-1850), Oslo, 1978; Systemtvang eller politikk (Systemic Force or Political Strategy. On the development of the oil-industrial complex in Norway), Oslo, 1999. Taler for fred (Speeches for Peace), Oslo, 2000.

First published 26 April 2001

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