In a bold move, The Norwegian Nobel Committee has awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 to President Barack Obama, for his "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."
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2009 Nobel Peace Prize Awarded to President Obama

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Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg called the decision a visionary and surprising choice.

In a bold move, The Norwegian Nobel Committee has awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 to President Barack Obama, for his "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."

The 2009 Nobel Peace Prize will be awarded to President Obama at a ceremony in the Oslo City Hall on December 10, 2009.

OBAMA'S VISION FOR PEACE CITED

Rather than citing his concrete achievements, the Nobel Committee took note of President Obama's vision of a better world, one without a proliferation of nuclear weapons; where diplomacy solves conflict; where climate change is a challenge faced together by all nations; where human rights and democracy are strengthened; as goals worthy of the prestigious Nobel Peace Price.

In their announcement, the Nobel Committee said, "The Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."

As president, Mr. Obama has created "a new climate in international politics," the committee noted.

"Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama's initiative, the U.S.A. is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened."

OBAMA IS A SURPRISE DECISION FOR HOPE

President Obama's name had been mentioned in speculation but many believed it was too early to award the Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama, as he has served less than a year in office.

However, although surprised, many called the decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama "a decision for hope." The announcement of the award on October 9th brought applause from the crowd gathered at the Nobel Institute in Oslo.

There is already some criticism of the Committee's choice of President Obama. Leader of the Progress Party, the largest Norwegian opposition party, Siv Jensen, said it was too soon, as President Obama had not yet delivered. "It is this that counts, not visions," Jensen said.

But the Committee noted that Obama's visions have already stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. In the past year, President Obama has been a key person for important initiatives in the U.N. for nuclear disarmament and to set a new agenda for the Muslim world and East-West relations.

Answering early objections that President Obama has not yet delivered on his goals, Norwegian Prime Minister Stoltenberg noted, "This is an important award because it may serve as an added stimulus in efforts to achieve the President's visions."

The committee stated that President Obama has been a unique force in giving all people hope. "Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population."

OBAMA'S RECORD ON WAR, PEACE AND MILITARY

President Obama's record on peacemaking is still under development.

While the two wars he inherited with his Presidency - in Iraq and Afghanistan - continue to drag on, the pressure on the administration mounts, not only for concrete peace initiatives in the two war regions but also on the withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq, the closure of the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the enforcement of a ban on torture.

President Obama announced plans to drop plans for a ballistic-missile defense shield in Central Europe, noting that scaling back US defense ambitions will improve security in the long run. The plan called for a battery of 10 ballistic missile interceptors in Poland and radar detection in the Czech Republic.

President Obama's aides continue working to coax Iran away from its alleged nuclear-weapons program, but results remains uncertain. Obama has said Iran should "come clean" on its nuclear ambitions and make a choice between isolation and cooperation.

In the eight-year war in Afghanistan, the President's foreign policy team is struggling to revamp its strategy while military reports note that conditions on the ground have worsened.

Also unresolved is the fate of the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, which Obama promised to close. The administration has also been questioned about efforts to pressure the Sudanese government over the conflict in Darfur.

HISTORY OF THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE

For 108 years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to stimulate precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which President Obama is now the world's leading spokesman.

The Nobel Peace Prize is an international prize which is awarded annually by the Norwegian Nobel Committee according to guidelines laid down in Alfred Nobel's will.

The Peace Prize is one of five prizes that have been awarded annually since 1901 under the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm for outstanding contributions in the fields of physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and peace. According to Nobel's will, the Peace Prize is to go to whoever "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.. The prize includes a medal, a personal diploma, and a prize money of 10 million Swedish crowns, equivalent to $1.4 million dollars.



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