News Column

Controversial Previous Nobel Peace Prize Winners

Oct. 12, 2012

The awarding of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union Friday drew a mix of praise and criticism.

EU leaders welcomed the prize as a pat on the back for European integration. But critics called the prize "a joke" given the current social tensions caused by EU-sponsored austerity programmes.

Other controversial Nobel peace laureates include:

- US President Barack Obama, 2009: Nine months into his presidency Obama won the prize. The Nobel committee cited his efforts on nuclear disarmament and support for multilateral institutions like the UN. More than his achievements, the committee said it wanted what Obama stood for. Yet since 2009 Obama has stepped up drone attacks. He has also still not honoured his election promise to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, as US military detention centre on the island of Cuba.

- Yasser Arafat, 1994: The Palestinian former guerrilla leader was jointly awarded the prize with Israel's Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres over the 1993 Oslo Accords. A Norwegian member of the committee resigned in protest, calling Arafat a terrorist.

- FW de Klerk, 1993: South African President FW de Klerk won the prize with anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela for their negotiations to end white minority rule. De Klerk's inclusion rankled with some South Africans, who pointed out atrocities by security forces had taken place on his watch.

- US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, 1973: Kissinger, an architect of the Vietnam War, and North Vietnamese revolutionary Le Duc were joint winners for negotiating a ceasefire that did not hold up. Tho refused the prize. The war continued until 1975.

- Nobody: Won the prize 19 times, for instance during World Wars 1 and II.

Source: Copyright 2012 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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