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Press Review
Press Review Archive

Wednesday, 17 October, 2001


Nobel Peace Prize for UN and Annan

by our Foreign Affairs Editor, Rob Kievit, 12 October 2001

Kofi Annan and UN wins Nobel Peace PrizeThe 100th Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded jointly to the United Nations and to its Secretary-General, Kofi Annan. In Oslo, jury chairman Gunnar Berge announced that the United Nations were awarded the prize for its constant efforts to promote peace and justice in the world.

Kofi Annan is not awarded the prize primarily for his considerable personal achievements, but rather as the personification of the United Nations. In the course of his lengthy career within the international organisation, Annan has become one with the United Nations, as few others have.

Announcing the winnerWinner Nobel Peace Prize (0┤24")

Motivation (0'48")Listen to the Norwegian Institute┤s reasons for UN and Annan. (0┤48")

A UN Career Diplomat
Kofi Annan was born 63 years ago in Ghana. An economist by training, he has worked with the United Nations since 1962. He served the World Health Organisation WHO, a number of UN bodies in Africa, and the UNHCR. At UN headquarters in New York he held responsibility for a number of UN peace missions, like the one in former Yugoslavia. At the time a number of humanitarian tragedies occurred, such as the fall of Srebrenica and the genocide in Rwanda. Kofi Annan ordered thorough investigations into these catastrophes. He later acknowledged that in both cases the UN had failed. UN troops in Yugoslavia had been armed too lightly, and the international organisation had failed to understand the gravity of the Rwanda crisis.

Annan's Personal Involvement

Gulf War (0'43")Listen to a RealAudio clip on the Gulf War. (0┤43")

Sovereignty  (0'48")Listen to a RealAudio clip on sovereignty. (0┤25")

The UN leader never shied away from personal risk. In 1990 he went to Iraq to negotiate with Saddam Hussein's regime over the release of 900 foreigners. They were held in Bagdad after Iraq's invasion of neighbouring Kuwait. Annan managed to secure the foreigners' release. But despite UN efforts, the Gulf war could not be averted.

Appointed Secretary-General in 1997, Annan was confronted with the UN's acute lack of money. His diplomatic skills helped him streamline the UN organisation and secure its survival.

A More Effective UN
Under Annan's leadership the United Nations abandoned the principle of unassailable national sovereignty. From then on the international organisation was entitled to carry out a humanitarian intervention in conflicts which earlier on would have been judged internal affairs. Governments can no longer hide behind their sovereignty, if the human rights of their own subjects are systematically violated. The Nobel Peace Prize committee recognizes that the UN has become more effective, partly as a result of this change of principle.

Climate (0'48")Listen to a RealAudio clip on climate change. (0┤15")

New challenges
Secretary-General Annan regularly draws the world's attention to problems that transgress borders and that will affect the generations after us, such as the hiv/aids-epidemic and climate change. Annan is the second UN Secretary-General to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1961 it was awarded posthumously to Dag Hammarskj÷ld, the Swedish UN leader who had died in a plane crash in Africa. The UN itself, too, was a Nobel laureate in former years: the UNHCR was honoured twice, in 1954 and 1981, and Unicef was awarded the prize in 1981.

The Nobel Peace Prize, including a prize sum of some 1 million euros, will be officially presented to Kofi Annan and the United Nations at a ceremony in Stockholm, later this year.


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