News / Europe

European Union Wins Nobel Peace Prize

Selah Hennessy
The European Union was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for its promotion of peace, democracy and human rights over the past six decades. The committee says it wanted to highlight the union's triumphs at a time of economic difficulty. But, the award's announcement has led some critics to question the EU's record on human rights.

Nobel Prize Committee Chairman Thorbjoern Jagland says the European Union has helped turn the continent from war to peace.

"The European Union is currently undergoing grave economic difficulties and considerable social unrest. The Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to focus on what it sees as the European Union's most important result - the successful struggle for peace and reconciliation and for democracy and human rights," said Jagland.

During the first half of the 20th century, millions of Europeans were killed in two world wars that tore the continent apart. At the close of the Second World War in 1945, many felt something had to be done to stop such bloodshed from happening again.

The European Union has helped fulfill that aim. Today 27 countries are member states - 17 of them united in a single currency, the euro.
Borders between nations have been opened up to allow free movement for EU citizens. And countries that were once violent enemies now work together for common goals.

Organizations Awarded Nobel Peace Prize

  • 2012 European Union
  • 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
  • 2006 Grameen Bank
  • 2005 International Atomic Energy Agency
  • 2001 United Nations
  • 1999 Doctors Without Borders (MSF)
  • 1997 International Campaign to Ban Landmines
  • 1995 Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs
  • 1988 United Nations Peacekeeping Forces
  • 1985 International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War
  • 1981 Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
  • 1977 Amnesty International
  • 1969 International Labor Organization
  • 1965 United Nations Children's Fund
  • 1963 International Committee of the Red Cross (also won in 1944, 1917)
  • 1963 League of Red Cross Societies
  • 1954 Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
  • 1947 Friends Service Council
  • 1947 American Friends Service Committee
  • 1938 Nansen International Office for Refugees
  • 1910 Permanent International Peace Bureau
  • 1904 Institute of International Law

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said Friday the union has been the world's biggest peacemaking institution.

"We are all very proud, and 'we,' that means not only the EU leaders but all the European citizens from this generation and the former generations," said Van Rompuy.

The award comes at a time when the European Union is mired in economic woes, and national governments are wrangling over the future of the euro. Poverty and social unrest are growing in many member countries, with soaring unemployment rates a growing concern and government spending cuts hitting many of Europe's poorest the most.

David Diaz-Jogeix is from the rights group Amnesty International. He says there is often a lack of political will to address human rights issues within the European Union. He highlighted what Amnesty sees as some notable shortfalls.

"Mainly it's a lack of political will to address severe, entrenched discrimination against Roma. This is the largest minority, and they are subject to structural discrimination. We have also seen large episodes of Islamophobia. There's discrimination against lesbian and gay people in many parts of the European Union. We have seen an 'EU Fortress' attitude to prevent people from coming into the European Union that has an impact on refugees and also asylum-seekers," said Diaz-Jogeix.

The peace prize is one of five Nobel prizes awarded yearly. The winner is selected by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, a five-member committee that is appointed by the Norwegian parliament. The award comes with prize money, which this year is just over $1 million. The prize will be awarded at a ceremony in Norway this December.

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Comment Sorting
by: Stevemd2 from: Baltimore, MD
October 12, 2012 3:54 PM
The European Union is also resposible for supporting its gay citizens rights to equality under the law. Half of the member states have Civil law marriage and the other half a sort of half baked Civil union status

France is guaranteed to join the marriage group by years end and it looks like England, Scotland, and wales will also do so within the next few years.

Once solidly catholic Ireland is now poised to go from CU/s to marriage . 7#% of the people there support enabling legislation to change the constitution to allow marriage equality

This is all a job well done. Shame on America for being so far behind in human rights. But its generally the same religious culture that made us the second to last nation in the west to end slaery and the only one to need a war to do so.

by: Alexandra Fiona Dixon from: San Francisco, California
October 12, 2012 3:54 PM
The Nobel Prize Committee completely lost my respect when they awarded the Peace Prize to Barack Obama in 2009. Here in America we have this concept of "layaway" where for example you can buy a washing machine and then pay for it in installments. I would have thought awarding the Peace Prize on layaway was beneath the Nobel Prize Committee, but apparently not. Three years later, I would say Mr. Obama is behind on his payments. They should go to his house and repossess it.

by: Stephen Real from: Columbia USA
October 12, 2012 3:12 PM
The blessings of European security can hardly overlook the US military contributions to the last 60 years of peace on the continent at the cost of the American tax payer. just saying

by: Michael from: USA
October 12, 2012 9:45 AM
I'm sorry, and in respect to the Nobel Prize, but if a European leader now issues messages in the Arabic language, something must be done to recognize and support Israel in European culture

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