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The Prize

Mother Teresa and Princess Diana
Peace Prize winner Jane Addams

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Each winner of a Nobel Prize, which can go to individuals and institutions (peace prize winners must be individuals), takes home a medal, a diploma and cash, which varies each year and depends on the income earned on the Nobel Foundation fund. The current purse is approximately $938,000. The awards process begins an entire year before the awards are announced, with the administers of the awards inviting nominations from the fall through January 31 of the next year. On February 1, the six committees begin considering nominees and make recommendations to the prize-awarding subcommittees in September and early October. The winners must be announced by November 15. The 1998 Nobel week began on October 8, with the awarding of the literature prize to Portugese writer Jose Saramago. The physiology or medicine awards will be announced on October 12, the physics and chemistry awards on October 13, economics on October 14, and peace on October 16.

Prizes are not automatically awarded each year. They can be withheld if there are no worthy candidates or when a world situation makes awarding the prizes impractical. Because of World War II, no awards were given from 1940-1942. Prizes can also be declined. Even if a prize is declined, the winner is entered in the books, but the cash gift reverts back to the fund. In 1937, Hitler issued a decree that forbade Germans from accepting Nobel Prizes. He considered pacifist journalist Carl von Ossietzky's 1935 peace prize a slap in the face.

Many would argue that Princess Diana's tireless work on behalf of AIDs victims, her campaign to ban landmines, and her many other humanitarian crusades make her an ideal Nobel Peace Prize candidate, but unfortunately awards cannot be made posthumously. There have only been 10 women peace prize recipients. The first, Baroness Bertha von Suttner, in 1905, was perhaps the inspiration for the award itself. Von Suttner, who organized the Austrian Peace Society and wrote the landmark anti-war novel Lay Down Your Arms, was a close friend of Alfred Nobel. When he established the peace prize, he wrote that it should go "to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses" — precisely the work the Baroness had been engaged in.

The other women to win Nobel Peace Prizes are: Jane Addams with Nicholas M. Butler (1931, U.S.), Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan (1976, Northern Ireland), Mother Teresa of Calcutta (1979, India), Alva Myrdal (1982, Sweden) with Alfonso García (Mexico), Aung San Suu Kyi (1991, Burma), Rigoberta Menchú Tum (1992, Guatemala) and Jody Williams with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (1997, U.S.).




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