And the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize is... the European Union
The European Union has joined an exclusive club of honorary members following the likes of Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela as this year's winner of the Noble Peace Prize.
The partnership of 27 European countries has been acknowledged for six decades of work in advancing peace reconciliation, democracy and human rights. The Norwegian Nobel Peace Prize Committee singled out the EU for their part in transforming most of Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace.
The award serves as a reminder that the EU has largely brought peace to a continent that tore itself apart in two world wars in which tens of millions died.
Nobel Committee Chairman Thorbjoern Jagland praised the EU for rebuilding Europe from the devastation of World War Two and for its role in spreading stability after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
In a joint statement the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission said; 'It is a tremendous honour for the European Union to be awarded the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize. This Prize is the strongest possible recognition of the deep political motives behind our Union: the unique effort by ever more European states to overcome war and divisions and to jointly shape a continent of peace and prosperity. It is a Prize not just for the project and the institutions embodying a common interest, but for the 500 million citizens living in our Union.'
Every year, the Norwegian Nobel Committee sends out thousands of letters inviting a qualified and select number of people to submit their nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize. The names of all nominees cannot be revealed for 50 years, although the Nobel Peace Prize committee does reveal the number of them each year. This year 231 names were submitted for the award.
Between 1901 and 2012 the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded 93 times to 124 Nobel Laureates, 100 individuals and 24 organizations. Past winners include; The International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, whilst individuals include; Theodore Roosevelt, Mother Theresa and Martin Luther King.
Remarkably there have been a number of renowned figures who did not get past the nomination stage. These include Winston Churchill, Mahatma Gandhi, Joseph Stalin and controversially Adolf Hitler - although his nomination was swiftly retracted with the nominator (a member of the Swedish parliament) declaring that he never intended the nomination to be taken seriously.
This year's award acknowledges the efforts of the European Union in delivering half a century of peace, stability, and prosperity. What began as purely an economic union has evolved into an organisation spanning policy areas, from development aid to environment and research.
During this time the EU has made significant changes such as launching a single currency to help raise living standards and abolishing border controls between EU countries. This has enabling people to travel freely throughout most of the continent and allowed people to live and work across borders.
The Norwegian Nobel Peace Prize Committee singled out the work of the EU which they said represented "fraternity between nations", which amounts to a form of the "peace congresses" to which Alfred Nobel referred to as the criteria for the Peace Prize in his 1895 will.
The EU will receive a USD 1.2 million award on 10 December from the Nobel Committee.
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Data Source Provider: Nobel Peace Prize Committee
Document Reference: Based on information from the Nobel Peace Committee
Subject Index: Coordination, Cooperation