Diana Huynh (Norway/Vietnam AC 09-11)
The beginning of October brought the announcement of the annual Nobel Prizes, and among them – perhaps considered the most significant of all – the Peace Prize. The prize has been rewarded for over a hundred years to men and women for their efforts working for peace and justice.
This year it could be debated whether to what extent the laureate has accomplished any of the latter. The decision made by the Norwegian Nobel Committee has without doubt stirred praise and skepticism throughout the global community. The Times wrote on October 10th, “The committee had put hope above results, promise above achievement”, other questions what he has done to merit such a prize.
Nevertheless, what there is no doubt about is that Barack Obama has been able to capture the whole world’s attention for the past year. He has been a central figure on the international stage, and will continue to play an important role as a diplomat. With his characteristic eloquence he has continuously been giving hope to people and promoting change – and it has merely been eleven months since he was elected the President of the United States. President Obama announced in his acceptance of the prize that he was “surprised and humbled”, and will continue to “confront the common challenges of the 21st century.”
It might have been with political intentions that the Nobel committee awarded the prize; to put pressure on the US for future endeavors. That would not, however, be the first time that a Nobel Peace laureate has been awarded for political settlements. Yasser Arafat, Henry Kissinger, Jimmy Carter, Teddy Roosevelt – all worked with solving conflicts between countries.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee decided to award the President “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy, and cooperation between peoples”. Possibly, some would argue that using diplomacy to solve global problems is what we have the UN for. Nonetheless, his outreach to the Muslim world and attempt towards nuclear disarmament are two worthy and important causes encouraging world peace.
What the world will now expect is that the President will actually achieve something. It will be interesting to see how the weight of the prize will change what President Obama will do, and the expectations it sets. The prize might even have been a burden to Obama domestically, with two wars and an economic recession on his shoulders. Furthermore, it might have changed the ethos of which the prized is based upon. But then again, President Obama is a man with visions of profound change. This year he proves that the Nobel Peace prize can be awarded as a catalyst for more peace, rather than recognition for established peace. And that is perhaps what the world seeks for.
– United World College Student Magazine –