Norwegian Nobel Committee

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Norwegian Nobel Committee
Norwegian: Den norske Nobelkomité
Headquarters Oslo, Norway
The Nobel Peace Prize Logo of the Nobel Peace Prize.jpg
The Nobel Peace Prize

The Norwegian Nobel Committee (Norwegian : Den norske Nobelkomité) selects the recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize each year on behalf of Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel's estate, based on instructions of Nobel's will.

Norwegian language North Germanic language spoken in Norway

Norwegian is a North Germanic language spoken mainly in Norway, where it is the official language. Along with Swedish and Danish, Norwegian forms a dialect continuum of more or less mutually intelligible local and regional varieties, and some Norwegian and Swedish dialects, in particular, are very close. These Scandinavian languages, together with Faroese and Icelandic as well as some extinct languages, constitute the North Germanic languages. Faroese and Icelandic are hardly mutually intelligible with Norwegian in their spoken form because continental Scandinavian has diverged from them. While the two Germanic languages with the greatest numbers of speakers, English and German, have close similarities with Norwegian, neither is mutually intelligible with it. Norwegian is a descendant of Old Norse, the common language of the Germanic peoples living in Scandinavia during the Viking Era.

Nobel Peace Prize One of five Nobel Prizes established by Alfred Nobel

The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Swedish industrialist, inventor, and armaments manufacturer Alfred Nobel, along with the prizes in Chemistry, Physics, Physiology or Medicine, and Literature. Since March 1901, it has been awarded annually 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".

Alfred Nobel Swedish chemist, innovator, and armaments manufacturer (1833-1896)

Alfred Bernhard Nobel was a Swedish businessman, chemist, engineer, inventor, and philanthropist.


Its five members are appointed by the Norwegian Parliament. In his will, Alfred Nobel tasked the Parliament of Norway with selecting the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize. At the time, Norway and Sweden were in a loose personal union. Despite its members being appointed by parliament, the committee is a private body tasked with awarding a private prize. In recent decades, most committee members have been retired politicians.

Union between Sweden and Norway personal union between Sweden and Norway 1814–1905

Sweden and Norway or Sweden–Norway, officially the United Kingdoms of Sweden and Norway, or as the United Kingdoms, was a personal union of the separate kingdoms of Sweden and Norway under a common monarch and common foreign policy that lasted from 1814 until its peaceful dissolution in 1905.

The committee is assisted by the Norwegian Nobel Institute, its secretariat, and the committee holds their meetings in the institute's building, where the winner is also announced. The award ceremony, however, takes place in Oslo City Hall (since 1990).

Norwegian Nobel Institute organization

The Norwegian Nobel Institute is located in Oslo, Norway. The institute is located at Henrik Ibsen Street 5 in the center of the city. It is situated just by the side of the Royal Palace, and diagonally across the street from the former U.S. Embassy.

Oslo City Hall

Oslo City Hall is a municipal building in Oslo, the capital of Norway. It houses the city council, the city's administration and various other municipal organisations. The building as it stands today was constructed between 1931 and 1950, with an interruption during the Second World War. It was designed by architects Arnstein Arneberg and Magnus Poulsson. The building is located in the city center, in the northern part of the Pipervika neighbourhood, and it faces Oslofjord.


Alfred Nobel died in December 1896, and in January 1897 the contents of his will were unveiled. It was written as early as in 1895. [1] In his will, it was declared that a Nobel Peace Prize should be awarded "to the person who shall 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", [2] and that some of Nobel's money was to be donated to this prize. The Nobel Foundation manages the assets. [3] The other Nobel Prizes were to be awarded by Swedish bodies (Swedish Academy, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Karolinska Institutet) that already existed, whereas the responsibility for the Peace Prize was given to the Norwegian Parliament, [4] specifically "a committee of five persons to be elected" by it. [2] A new body had to be createdthe Norwegian Nobel Committee.

Nobel Foundation private institution managing the finances and administration of the Nobel Prizes

The Nobel Foundation is a private institution founded on 29 June 1900 to manage the finances and administration of the Nobel Prizes. The Foundation is based on the last will of Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite.

Nobel Prize Set of annual international awards, primarily 5 established in 1895 by Alfred Nobel

The Nobel Prize is a set of annual international awards bestowed in several categories by Swedish and Norwegian institutions in recognition of academic, cultural, or scientific advances.

Swedish Academy Swedish Royal Academy

The Swedish Academy, founded in 1786 by King Gustav III, is one of the Royal Academies of Sweden. It has 18 members, who are elected for life. The academy makes the annual decision on who will be the laureate for the Nobel Prize in Literature, awarded in memory of the donor Alfred Nobel.

Jurist Fredrik Heffermehl has noted that a legislative body could not necessarily be expected to handle a judicial task like managing a legal will. The task of a parliament is to create and change laws whereas a will can not be changed unless the premises are clearly outdated. However, this question was not debated in depth, out of contemporary fear that the donated money might be lost in legal battles if the body was not created soon. [5] On 26 April 1897 the Norwegian Parliament accepted the assignment and on 5 August the same year it formalized the process of election and service time for committee members. [6] The first Peace Prize was awarded in 1901 to Henri Dunant and Frédéric Passy. [3] In the beginning, the committee was filled with active parliamentarians and the annual reports were discussed in parliamentary sessions. These ties to the Norwegian Parliament were later weakened so that the committee became more independent. Accordingly, the name was changed from the Norwegian Nobel Committee to the Nobel Committee of the Norwegian Parliament (Norwegian : Det norske Stortings Nobelkomité) in 1901, but changed back in 1977. [6] Now, active parliamentarians cannot sit on the committee, unless they have explicitly stated their intent to step down shortly. [7]

Fredrik Stang Heffermehl is a Norwegian jurist, writer and peace activist. He formerly worked as a lawyer and civil servant from 1965 to 1982 and was the first secretary-general of the Norwegian Humanist Association from 1980 to 1982. He later made his mark as a writer and activist for peace and against nuclear arms. He is the honorary president, and former president, of the Norwegian Peace Council, a former vice president of the International Peace Bureau, which received the 1910 Nobel Peace Prize, and a former vice president of the International Association of Lawyers against Nuclear Arms.

Frédéric Passy French economist and statesman

Frédéric Passy was a French economist and a joint winner of the first Nobel Peace Prize awarded in 1901.

Nonetheless, the committee is still composed mainly of politicians. A 1903 proposition to elect a law scholar (Ebbe Hertzberg) was rejected. [5] In late 1948, the election system was changed to make the committee more proportional with parliamentary representation of Norwegian political parties. The Norwegian Labour Party, which controlled a simple majority of seats in the Norwegian Parliament orchestrated this change. [8] This practice has been cemented, but sharply criticized. [9] There have been propositions about including non-Norwegian members in the committee, but this has never happened. [7]

Ebbe Hertzberg Norwegian politician

Ebbe Carsten Hornemann Hertzberg was a Norwegian professor and social economist. He was also a legal historian and published several works in that field.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee is assisted by the Norwegian Nobel Institute, established in 1904. [3] The committee might receive well more than a hundred nominations and asks the Nobel Institute in February every year to research about twenty candidates. [10] The director of the Nobel Institute also serves as secretary to the Norwegian Nobel Committee; currently this position belongs to Olav Njølstad. Kaci Kullmann Five had been the Norwegian Nobel Committee's leader since March 2015.

List of Chairpersons

List of chairpersons [11]

In January 1944 an attempt by the Quisling government to take over the functions of the Nobel Committee led to the resignation of Jahn and other committee members. The Swedish consulate-general in Oslo formally took over the management of the Foundation's Oslo property on behalf of the Nobel Foundation. [12]


The members as of October 2018 are: [13]


The Norwegian Nobel Institute, where the committee holds its meetings Norske nobelinstiutt 1.jpg
The Norwegian Nobel Institute, where the committee holds its meetings

The committee is assisted by the Norwegian Nobel Institute, its secretariat. The leader of the institute holds the title secretary. The secretary is not a member of the committee, but is an employee of the Norwegian Nobel Institute.

List of secretaries [11]

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Berit Reiss-Andersen Norwegian lawyer, writer and politician

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Geir Lundestad Norwegian historian and director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute

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Gerd Grønvold Saue is a Norwegian journalist, literary critic, novelist, hymnwriter, and peace activist. Her authorship mainly comprises novels, many of which convey her Christian views.

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The 2018 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad "for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict," according to the Norwegian Nobel Committee announcement on 5 October 2018 in Oslo, Norway. "Both laureates have made a crucial contribution to focusing attention on, and combating, such war crimes," according to the award citation. After reading the citation, Committee Chair Berit Reiss-Andersen told reporters that the impact of this year's award is to highlight sexual abuse with the goal that every level of governance take responsibility to end such crimes and impunities.


  1. Heffermehl, 2008: pp. 15–17
  2. 1 2 "Excerpt from the Will of Alfred Nobel". Nobel Foundation . Retrieved 14 June 2009.
  3. 1 2 3 Arntzen, Jon Gunnar (2007). "Nobelprisen". In Henriksen, Petter. Store norske leksikon (in Norwegian). Oslo: Kunnskapsforlaget. Retrieved 14 June 2009.
  4. Heffermehl, 2008: p. 39
  5. 1 2 Heffermehl, 2008: p. 72
  6. 1 2 Heffermehl, 2008: pp. 53–54
  7. 1 2 Helljesen, Geir. "Bare nordmenn i Nobelkomiteen" (in Norwegian). Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 14 June 2009.
  8. Heffermehl, 2008: pp. 84–85
  9. Dahl, Miriam Stackpole (10 October 2008). "Fredspriskuppet". Ny Tid (in Norwegian). Archived from the original on 10 December 2008. Retrieved 12 December 2008.
  10. Heffermehl, 2008: pp. 50–51
  11. 1 2 Heffermehl, 2008: pp. 60–64
  12. "The Norwegian Nobel Committee 1901-2008". Retrieved 1 February 2012.
  13. "The Norwegian Nobel Committee". The Nobel Peace Prize. Retrieved 3 October 2018.