Covering Obama and the Nobel Peace Prize

The news that President Obama was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize seemed to take everyone by surprise — from the White House to journalists covering the announcement in Oslo.

According to the Norwegian Nobel Committee announcement, “Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. 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 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. 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. 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.”


In addition to diplomacy efforts, the committee cited Obama’s efforts to address global warming and climate change.

The Nobel Committee additionally pointed to Obama’s outreach to the Islamic community as a key reason behind the decision to give him the award.

Also note a Pew Forum study showing how popular Obama is around the world — often much more so than he is at home.

However, there was political fallout from the award in the United States. Many of Obama’s critics rolled their eyes at the Nobel Committee’s decision to give the prestigious prize to a president who has been in office less than a year, and with much of his agenda still unfulfilled. Even many of Obama’s supporters were taken aback.

Reaction from religious groups

Leaders of the National Association of Evangelicals, meeting in Landover, Md., congratulated Obama on the award, in particular because of the emphasis on nuclear disarmament cited by the Nobel Committee.Their comments are posted at Faith in Public Life.

At the Vatican, Catholic leaders — including prelates from Africa and America — reacted positively to the news of the award to Obama, according to this Catholic News Service story.

Concerned Women for America, a Christian advocacy group that aims to bring biblical principles into public policy, denounced the Nobel decision. Read the group’s response, “Dumbing Down the Nobel Peace Prize.”

Related source guides