Barack Obama is the 44th President of the United States. He was elected in November 2008, 12 days before the nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize. He is the fourth US president to win the prize.
Alfred Berhnard Nobel (1801 - 1872), the man behind the peace prize, was a Swedish chemist whose best-known invention was dynamite. He owned the huge Swedish weapons company Bofors. He was also an engineer and innovator. He amassed a large amount of money and in his will he stated that it should be used to award prizes in five categories - Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, and Peace. There is also an economics prize, but this was not one of the categories mentioned in Nobel's will.
Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, which is given to people who 'during the preceding year [...] shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses', according to Nobel's will.
On October 9, 2009, Obama was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize 'for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples'.
Very few people expected Obama to win. Even Obama was surprised, saying 'I do not feel I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who've been honoured by this prize'. It would seem Obama has not done anything concrete to deserve the prize, with other nominees risking life and limb to bring about peace and transform the world around them. The move caused a storm of domestic and international criticism, with critics saying it was like giving the prize for literature for a novel that is yet to be written. But, according to US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, the prize recognised Obama's willingness to challenge everyone, which she said, had restored America's image.
Obama will receive the prize in Oslo, Norway, in December.