9 Astounding Nobel Peace Prize Winners of The Last Decade
- Denis Mukwege and Nadia MuradDenis Mukwege and Nadia Murad
- International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear WeaponsInternational Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
- Kailash Satyarthi and Malala YousafzaiKailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai
- Liu XiaoboLiu Xiaobo
- Barack ObamaBarack Obama
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Al Gore JrIntergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Al Gore Jr
- Wangari Muta MaathaiWangari Muta Maathai
- United Nations and Kofi AnnanUnited Nations and Kofi Annan
- Kim Dae-jungKim Dae-jung
One does not simply become a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate without making an impact that benefits humankind
“The interest is to be divided into five equal parts and distributed as follows. . . one part to the person who has done the most or best to advance fellowship among nations, the abolition or reduction of standing armies, and the establishment and promotion of peace congresses,” wrote Alfred Nobel in his will.
The responsibility of selecting Peace Prize laureates falls in the hands of the Norwegian Nobel Committee as instructed by Nobel. The committee is composed of five trusted members appointed by the Storting, the Norwegian Parliament and its pool of expert advisers. Thus far, the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded 101 times to 135 Nobel Prize laureates between 1901 and 2020.
Here are some of the notable winners who have made a significant mark in the world in the last decade:
Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad
Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad were honoured in 2018 “for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict”.
Denis Mukwege is a surgeon who has helped victims of sexual violence in armed conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo. "Taking action is a choice: whether or not we stop violence against women, where or not we create a positive masculinity which promotes gender equality in times of peace as well as war," he said in his vernacular during the Nobel Peace Prize lecture in 2018.
Nadia Murad was taken prisoner by the Islamic State and was subjected to sexual abuse along with other young women. Thankfully, she was able to flee after three months. Now, she strives to help women and children who have faced the same challenges she had experienced. "Thank you very much for this honour," said Murad in front of a teary-eyed crowd. "But the only prize in the world that may restore our dignity is justice and the prosecution of criminals".
International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons' (ICAN) motivation was to “draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons,” but it was also recognised for “its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons” in 2017.
The ICAN, founded in Australia in the year 2007, is a coalition of non-governmental organisations in over 100 countries. Their efforts have led to the drafting of an agreement that prohibits nuclear weapons in 2017.
Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai
Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai were given the Peace Prize “for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education” in 2014.
Indian activist, Kailash Satyarthi, taught after completing an electrical engineering degree. Later, however, he founded Bachpan Bachao Andolan, a foundation that has helped stop children from labour exploitation as he believes that children must have the right to attend school.
Malala Yousafzai would agree, as she has fought for children—especially young girls' right to education. She remains persistent despite suffering from the attack of Taliban gunmen. "Today, I'm focusing on women's rights and girls education because they are suffering the most. There was a time when women social activists asked men to stand up for their rights. But this time, we will do it by ourselves," said Yousafzai before she received a round of applause at the United Nations.
The late Liu Xiaobo wanted the people of China to "write as well as publish without barriers". His strong belief in freedom of expression won him a Nobel Peace Prize in 2010. He received the prize “for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China”.
Regardless, he was sentenced to two years in prison for taking part in the Tiananmen Square student protest in 1989. He was also arrested in 2008 for advocating China's political and legal system's shift to democracy. But this did not stop Xiaobo from expressing his truth.
In 2009, Barack H. Obama was awarded “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples”. During his Nobel Peace Prize lecture, Obama explicitly announced this. “America cannot act alone. America alone cannot secure peace”.
As the 44th President of the United States, Obama strongly advocated for human rights and democracy and continuously shed light on climate change.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Al Gore Jr
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Albert Arnold (Al) Gore Jr received the Peace Prize in 2007 “for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change”.
Established in 1988 by the United Nations General Assembly, the IPCC often raised awareness about the real danger of climate change.
Former US Vice President, Albert Arnold "Al" Gore Jr, shared this vision with the IPCC. He had always been conscious of the environment and have used his platform to promote environmental awareness as well. The Nobel Committee recognises Gore as the individual who has done most in encouraging the public to take action in fighting climate change.
Wangari Muta Maathai
Wangari Muta Maathai saw the importance of sustainable development before the rest of the world did. Because of this, she became the first African woman to receive the Peace Prize in 2004, all for her “contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace”.
Maathai began a grass-roots movement that went against deforestation in 1977. She encouraged women to plant more trees and brought awareness to the environment.
She is also the first female scholar from East and Central Africa to take a doctorate in biology. She is also the first female professor in Kenya.
United Nations and Kofi Annan
In 2001, the Nobel Committee called special attention to the United Nations (UN) and Kofi Annan's “work for a better organized and more peaceful world”.
Building a global organisation is one of the most important guidelines for the Nobel Committee, which makes the United Nations an apparent contender. The organisation has evolved from overcoming poverty and promoting economic and social development to promoting human rights.
Kofi Annan, the secretary-general of UN, shared the prize with the organisation as he gave priority to human rights, committed to containing the spread of HIV across Africa, and declared strong opposition to terrorism.
The late former President of South Korea, Kim Dae-jung, was recognised by the Nobel Committee for “his work for democracy and human rights in South Korea and in East Asia in general, and for peace and reconciliation with North Korea in particular”.
His “sunshine” policy was a foreign policy that aimed to "[loosen] containment on North Korea, embracing North Korea, and eventually making the North Korean government to denuclearise by itself."
Dae-jung's policy has shown that proper communication was far better than force.