Obama 'deeply humbled' by Nobel Peace Prize win
US PRESIDENT Barack Obama today won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize for "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."
"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 Norwegian Nobel 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."
Mr Obama's name had been mentioned in speculation before the award but many Nobel watchers believed it was too early to award the president.
The committee said it attached special importance to Mr Obama's vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.
"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," it said.
The choice made Mr Obama the third sitting US president to win the Nobel Peace Prize and shocked observers because he took office less than two weeks before the February 1 nomination deadline.
"Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Mr Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future," the committee said.
Theodore Roosevelt won the award in 1906 and Woodrow Wilson won in 1919. Former President Jimmy Carter won the award in 2002, while former Vice President Al Gore shared the 2007 prize with the UN panel on climate change.
The Nobel committee received a record 205 nominations for this year's prize.
Mr Obama said he was "surprised and deeply humbled" to be honoured with the Nobel Peace Prize.
At an unscheduled press conference at the White House, Mr Obama joked: "This was not what I expected to wake up to this morning".
He said: "To be honest I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures that have been honoured by this prize, that have inspired me and the entire world in their courageous pursuit of peace."
He added: "I do not view it as recognition of my own accomplishments but rather as affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations."
The award would be accepted as "a call to action" for all nations to confront the challenges of the 21st century, Mr Obama said.
Domestic political opponents of the president were quick to criticise the decision by the Nobel Committee.
Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican Party, said it was "unfortunate that the president's star power has outshined tireless advocates who have made real achievements working towards peace and human rights".
He continued: "The real question Americans are asking is, 'What has President Obama actually accomplished?'," adding that he would not be "receiving any awards from Americans for job creation, fiscal responsibility, or backing up rhetoric with concrete action".
THE PAST TEN WINNERS
Kim Dae Jung
"for his work for democracy and human rights in South Korea and in East Asia in general, and for peace and reconciliation with North Korea in particular"
United Nations / Kofi Annan, Ghana
"for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world"
"for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development"
"for her efforts for democracy and human rights. She has focused especially on the struggle for the rights of women and children."
Wangari Muta Maathai Kenya
"for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace"
International Atomic Energy Agency / Mohamed ElBaradei
Austria / Egypt
"for their efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is used in the safest possible way"
Muhammad Yunus /Grameen Bank
"for advancing economic and social opportunities for the poor, especially women, through their pioneering microcredit work"
Al Gore / Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
United States / Switzerland
"for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change"
"for his important efforts, on several continents and over more than three decades, to resolve international conflicts"
"for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."
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