Former American President Jimmy Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize today for his peace mediation efforts and promotion of human rights in, what the awards committee said was, a criticism of US policy and "a kick in the leg" to those following the same line.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee cited Mr Carter's "decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development."
The award, worth $1 million, singled out Carter's "vital contribution" to the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt and his efforts in conflict resolution on several continents and the promotion of human rights after his presidency.
"In a situation currently marked by threats of the use of power, Carter has stood by the principles that conflicts must as far as possible be resolved through mediation and international co–operation based on international law, respect for human rights, and economic development," the citation said.
"It should be interpreted as a criticism of the line that the current administration has taken," Gunnar Berge, chairman of the Nobel committee, said. "It's a kick in the leg to all that follow the same line as the United States".
Mr Carter said the prize "encourages people to think about peace and human rights."
He said his most significant work has been through the Carter Centre, which he established after his presidency and which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.
"When I was at the White House I was a fairly young man and I realized I would have maybe 25 more years of active life," he told CNN, adding that he decided to "capitalise on the influence I had as the former president of the greatest nation of the world and decided to fill vacuums."
Last year's award was shared by the United Nations and its secretary–general, Kofi Annan.
Mr Carter, who was president from 1977–1981, brokered the 1978 agreements that were signed by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin at the Camp David.
But while Mr Sadat and Mr Begin shared the 1978 Peace Prize for their efforts, the Nobel committee said Carter was left out due to a technicality – he was not nominated in time.
The peace prize announcement capped a week of Nobel prizes, with the awards for literature, medicine, physics, chemistry and economics already announced in Sweden's capital, Stockholm.
The Norwegian Nobel committee received a record 156 nominations – 117 individuals and 39 groups – by the Feb. 1 deadline. The list remains secret for 50 years, but those who nominate sometimes announce their choice.
Many known nominees reflected the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States and their aftermath, including former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
The first Nobel Peace Prize, in 1901, honoured Jean Henry Dunant, the Swiss founder of the Red Cross. The prizes were created by Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel in his will and always are presented on10 December, the anniversary of his 1896 death.
This year's Nobels started on Monday with the naming of medicine prize winners American H. Robert Horvitz and Britons Sydney Brenner and John E. Sulston for groundbreaking research into organ growth and cell death – work that has opened new avenues for treating cancer, stroke and other diseases.
The physics award went on Tuesday to Masatoshi Koshiba, of Japan, and Americans Riccardo Giacconi and Raymond Davis Jr. for using some of the most obscure particles and waves in nature to increase understanding of the universe.
On Wednesday, the economics prize went to Americans Daniel Kahneman and Vernon L. Smith for pioneering the use of psychological and experimental economics in decision–making. On the same day, American John B. Fenn, Koichi Tanaka of Japan and Kurt Wuethrich of Switzerland were given the chemistry prize for making two existing lab techniques work for big molecules like proteins.
Imre Kertesz, a Hungarian who survived Auschwitz as a teenager, won the literature prize Thursday for writing that "upholds the fragile experience of the individual against the barbaric arbitrariness of history," the Swedish Academy said.
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