The United Nations: Formally Recognized and Recognized by Association

By Rutsch, Horst | UN Chronicle, September-November 2003 | Go to article overview

The United Nations: Formally Recognized and Recognized by Association


Rutsch, Horst, UN Chronicle


The Norwegian Nobel Committee, in its 101 years of existence has awarded the Nobel Peace Prize not only to United Nations agencies and staff eight times--we took at the eight laureates associated with the United Nations, including the Organization itself, in following pages--it has also honoured a number of individuals and organizations working indirectly with the United Nations or its precursor, the League of Nations.

Before 1914, the Nobel Committee credited, in particular, efforts at legislation and arbitration leading to peace, especially in connection with the Hague Peace Conferences of 1899 and 1907, and it awarded the Prize to a number of representatives of popular peace movements and international legal tradition, such as Frederic Passy of France (1901), one of the principal founders of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, and former Belgian Prime Minister August Beernaert (1909), a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague.

In the period between the two world wars, many of the laureates were closely associated with the League of Nations. In 1919, the Peace Prize was awarded to United States President Woodrow Wilson for his crucial role in establishing the League; the following year it went to Leon Bourgeois of France, known as its "spiritual father", Perhaps no one was more closely identified with the League of Nations than one of its architects, Lord Robert Cecil of the United Kingdom, who received the Prize in 1937, and participated in 1946 in the final meetings of the League at Geneva, ending his speech with, "The League is dead; long live the United Nations!" He remained active in supporting international efforts for peace through his honorary life presidency of the United Nations Association.

During the world wars, the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize was suspended, except to recognize (1917 and 1944) the efforts of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to assist wounded combatants, prisoners of war and refugees This emphasis on the humanitarian aspects of peace was evident from the beginning: as in 1901, the Norwegian Nobel Committee had decided to share the first Peace Prize between Frederic Passy and Henri Dunant of Switzerland, founder of ICRC and originator of the 1864 Geneva Convention In 1922, Fridtj of Nansen of Norway, originator of the so-called "Nansen passports", was honoured for his work with refugees, and in 1938 the Prize went to the Nansen International Office for Refugees, founded following Fridtjof Nansen's death in 1930, as the successor of the first international agency dealing with refugees--the High Commission for Refugees, established by the League of Nations under the direction of Nansen in 1921

In 1963, on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Red Cross, the Prize was awarded jointly to two major arms of the Red Cross movement: the Swiss International Committee of the Red Cross and the International League of Red Cross Societies. …

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