The post war decade is a period, in which peoples and countries painfully got back on their feet. The Nobel Peace Prize rewards personalities, who contributed to the reconstruction of a scarred Europe and the creation of a new world order.
Others are honoured for their exemplary action of universal significance, such as Albert Schweitzer, distinguished for his humanitarian work in Africa.
In the thick of the Cold War the Nobel Peace Prize Committee honoured the international personalities who struggled against disarmament.
It also rewarded pacifists, who preached non-violence and battled against segregation in their own country, like Martin Luther King in the United States.
As is shown by the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the dissident, Andreï Sakharov, or the duo of Sadate-Begin, the 1970’s were again marked by the Cold War and by the conflict in the Middle East.
The Nobel prizes awarded to René Cassin, Mother Teresa and Amnesty international also remind us of the importance of humanitarian action and the struggle for human rights.
Together with Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama was an emblematic figure among the spiritual leaders rewarded in the 1980’s for having devoted their lives to fighting for peace and preaching non-violence.
In the same era the Noble Prizes awarded to Lech Walesa and Mikhail Gorbachev were the echo of a page of history, which was being turned, with the end of the Soviet bloc and the Cold War.
From Nelson Mandela to the troika of Arafat-Peres-Rabin, from post apartheid South Africa to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in the 1990’s the Nobel Prize rewarded symbols of reconciliation and peace-making endeavours.
It also highlighted the less well reported conflicts and struggles, like those of the Amerindians in Guatemala and the war in East Timor.
When sustainable development and climate change became subjects of public debate, the Nobel Prize rewarded the figures of the ecological struggle, such as Wangari Muta Maathai.
During these years, which were also marked by the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 and American military policy, it honoured the International Atomic Energy Agency in the context of the war in Iraq.
Five women have received the Nobel Peace Prize since 2010. In this way the Committee salutes the struggle for their rights and marks their recognition on the international stage.
They include the young Pakistani, Malala Yousafzai, who has become an icon of this cause and the Liberian, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first female president in Africa.