OSLO, Norway, October 9, 2009 (ENS) – The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that 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.” The Committee attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons and to his work in meeting the challenge of global warming.

“Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics,” the Nobel Prize Committee said in its announcement of the Peace Prize award today. “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 Committee said.

“The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama’s initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting,” said the Committee. “Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.”

“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,” the Committee said. “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.”

“For 108 years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to stimulate precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which Obama is now the world’s leading spokesman. The Committee endorses Obama’s appeal that “Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges.”

The Nobel Peace Prize comes with a monetary award of approximately $1.42 million. The Prize is presented annually in Oslo, in the presence of the king, on December 10, the anniversary of the death of Swedish industrialist and dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel, who established the Nobel Prize system. Nobel died in 1896 and did not leave an explanation for choosing peace as a prize category.

Speaking at the White House this morning, President Obama said he is “surprised and deeply humbled” by the Peace Prize award.

“To be honest,” Obama said, “I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who’ve been honored by this prize – men and women who’ve inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.”

He said the award reflects the kind of world he and his administration are working towards and is being used to “give momentum” to his efforts.

“I will accept this award as a call to action for all nations to confont the challenges of the 21st century,” Obama said. “These challenges cannot be met by any one leader or any one nation.”

While, all nations have the right to pursue peaceful nuclear power, he acknowledged, “We cannot tolerate a world in which nuclear weapons spread to more nations.”

“We cannot accept the growing threat posed by climate change, which could forever damage the world that we pass on to our children – sowing conflict and famine; destroying coastlines and emptying cities,” Obama said. “And that’s why all nations must now accept their share of responsibility for transforming the way that we use energy.”

“Some of the work confronting us will not be completed during my presidency,” said Obama. “Some, like the elimination of nuclear weapons, may not be completed in my lifetime. But I know these challenges can be met so long as it’s recognized that they will not be met by one person or one nation alone. This award is not simply about the efforts of my administration – it’s about the courageous efforts of people around the world.”

International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Mohamed ElBaradei expressed delight on learning that President Barack Obama has been awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. The IAEA and Dr. ElBaradei received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the award, “great news for President Obama, for the people of the United States, and for the United Nations.”

“We are entering an era of renewed multilateralism, a new era where the challenges facing humankind demand global common cause and uncommon global effort,” said the secretary-general. “President Obama embodies the new spirit of dialogue and engagement on the world’s biggest problems: climate change, nuclear disarmament and a wide range of peace and security challenges. President Obama¬ís commitment to work through the United Nations gives the world’s people fresh hope and fresh prospects.”

Environmentalists greeted the news by urging that President Obama use the Peace Prize to help cool the planet.

Friends of the Earth President Erich Pica offered “sincere congratulations” but expressed “concerns” that the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded President Obama this award on the basis of expectations that have not yet been met.”

“While President Obama has pledged to solve climate change at the international level it is important to note the United States is still playing a counter-productive role in the ongoing climate negotiations,” said Pica. “At this moment U.S. negotiators are in Bangkok attempting to undermine existing agreements and shirk wealthy nations’ responsibility to lead the way in solving the climate crisis.”

“President Obama will receive his award in Oslo, Norway, on December 10 – the same time that climate negotiations will be taking place in Copenhagen,” Pica pointed out. “We urge him to travel to Europe at this time not just to accept an award, but also to ensure that a strong and fair climate agreement is achieved.”

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2009. All rights reserved.