Updated: Dec 10, 2020
Today marks the 124 year anniversary of the death of Alfred Nobel and this means that normally as every year, Oslo would held one of the biggest and most important events - the Nobel Peace Prize! If you want to know more about the prize, keep reading. Because in this post, we will introduce give you all the information you need to know about the prize - and why everything is a little bit different in 2020.
Of course most people know that the Nobel Prizes are awarded by the Swedish Academy every year and the prize ceremonies are held in Stockholm. The only exception from this rule in the Nobel Peace Prize which is awarded in Oslo and its recipient is selected by the Norwegian Nobel Committee. In order to understand why this is the case, we have to travel more than one hundred years back in time.
Alfred Nobel was a Swedish chemist, engineer, inventor and businessman. He held more than 300 patents by the time of his death, most notably probably the patent for dynamite. His inventions and his steel producing companies made Nobel one of the richest men in the 19th century and after his death in 1896, his will held a surprise for both his heirs and the general public: Unbeknownst to his family, Nobel had left the major part of his fortune to a trust - in order to fund the Nobel prizes that he called to establish after his death.
The Nobel Peace Prize was one of the prize categories Nobel had noted in his will, along with prizes in Chemistry, Physics, Medicine and Literature. The prize was to be awarded to those who have "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" - and it was to be awarded in Norway.
To this day it is unclear why Nobel chose the prize to be administered in Norway which was, at the time of Nobel's death ruled in union with Sweden. It is speculated that Nobel chose Norway because it didn't have the same military traditions as his native country of Sweden. Nobel might have suspected that Sweden, as a country of long military traditions that was also frequently involved into armed conflicts, was not fit to award a peace prize.
The Nobel Peace Prize In Norway
Each year, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate is chosen by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, a five member committee selected by the Norwegian Parliament. After the committee has chosen a winner, the chairman of the committee presents the winner in presence of the King of Norway. The ceremony is held every year on December 10th - the anniversary of Nobel's death.
The Nobel laureate receives a diploma, a medal and a document confirming the prize amount. As of 2019 the prize amount was 9 million Swedish crowns. Since 1990, the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded in Oslo city Hall which is historically the city's 3rd city hall. But let's keep the story of Oslo's city halls for another post and focus back on the Prize!
Awarding the Nobel Peace Prize in 2020
As most things in 2020, plans for the Nobel Prize ceremony had to be changed due to the corona pandemic. While the ceremony was supposed to happen on the 10th of December, the in-person ceremony had to be postponed to next month. According to the Nobel Committee: "With the current restrictions in Oslo, it would not be possible to carry out the ceremony or other parts of the laureate's traditional program in a good and worthy manner,".
Accordingly, David Beasley, the head of the World Food Program which is this year's Nobel laureate will be presented with the medal and diploma in a digital ceremony on December 10th. If you want to see the ceremony, check out the video below! :)
The Committee further said that they hoped there would be the possibility of holding an award ceremony and banquet in honour of the World Food Program next January. However, the postponed ceremony will certainly be a down-scaled affair. Instead of the Oslo City Hall, the prize will be awarded in the Oslo University Faculty of Law - where the prize was already awarded between 1947 and 1989.
Regardless whether it's the city hall or the university faculty: the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony remains one of the biggest and most important events happening in Oslo every year! If you want to know more about the prize and its history in Norway we recommend you a visit to the Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo. Or why not to combine learning with fun by joining our E-scooter Sightseeing Tour where you will learn everything you need to know about the Nobel Peace Prize and much more!