Vol. XVII, Issue 1 (Winter 2010):The Relevance of the AMISTAD to the
Ralph Bunche, Wangari Maathai, & Barack Obama Nobels



Gloria Emeagwali
Chief Editor

Walton Brown-Foster
Copy Editor

Haines Brown


Olayemi Akinwumi

Zenebworke Bissrat

Paulus Gerdes

Mosebjane Malatsi
(South Africa)

Alfred Zack-Williams
(Sierra Leone)


Tennyson Darko
Asst. Dir. ITS, CCSU

Peter K. LeMaire
Professor, CCSU

Bernice A. LeMaire
Website Designer

Maintained by

For more information concerning AfricaUpdate
Prof. Gloria Emeagwali
CCSU History Dept.
1615 Stanley Street
New Britain, CT 06050
Tel: 860-832-2815



Table of contents

  • Editorial: Dr. Gloria Emeagwali

  • The Relevance of the AMISTAD to Ralph Bunche, Wangari Maathai, & Barack Obama Nobels - Prof. Mojúbàolú Olúfúnké Okome


     The  Seventh Annual Amistad Lecture by Professor Mojúbàolú Olúfúnké Okome:

     The Relevance of  the AMISTAD to the Ralph Bunche, Wangari Maathai, & Barack Obama Nobels



    Barack Obama, the campaigner, shattered one of the glass ceilings hovering over Blacks in the United States;  challenged white supremacist thinking;  proved his mettle on the campaign trail by his tenacity, steadfastness and  sense of purpose;  demonstrated his commitment to human rights around the world, including the rights of prisoners to have a free and fair trial; and criticized the notion of preemptive strike, presumably both against civilians and countries. His tenacity, commitment and  audacity to hope for a better world, thrust him in the tradition of the AMISTAD Africans .

     But what of Barack Obama,  the President? Are they one and the same, or are they different? How does he fare in the corridors of power?  Did he deserve the 2009 Nobel  Prize for Peace? Was he as deserving as his predecessors? What distinguishes him from Ralphe  Bunche and  Wangari  Maathai?

     The Seventh recipient of the AMISTAD Award,  Professor  Mobujaolu  Okome, offered valuable insights on some of these issues,  to  packed audiences,  at the Banquet held in honor of  the heroes of the AMISTAD,  February 10, 2010, and earlier in the day, at the Torp Theater,  Central Connecticut State University.  The Relevance of  the AMISTAD to the Ralph Bunche, Wangari Maathai, & Barack Obama Nobels was the title of this year’s annual lecture.We have reproduced Professor Okome’s scholarly and illuminating discourse, in this issue of Africa Update.


    Chief Editor

    Dr. Gloria Emeagwali


    Return to Table of Contents


    The Relevance of  the AMISTAD to the Ralph Bunche, Wangari Maathai, & Barack Obama Nobels


    Public Lecture specially prepared for presentation for the Seventh Amistad Lecture,     Central Connecticut State University, New Britain, Connecticut, February 23, 2010.

    Mojúbàolú Olúfúnké Okome, Ph.D.
    Professor of Political Science
    Women’s Studies Coordinator

    Brooklyn College, CUNY



    In 1901, Henry Dunant, founder of the Red Cross and won the first Nobel Peace Prize.  According to the organizers, "The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded ninety times to one hundred and twenty Nobel Laureates between 1901 and 2009 – ninety seven times to individuals and twenty three times to organizations."  The names and the dates of the awards are found here:  http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/index.html





    What is the Amistad to me?  The Amistad symbolizes in the first place, the indomitable human spirit.  It is indicative of a spirit of resistance in the most difficult circumstances, to oppression, captivity, abuse, inhumanity, slavery of body,  spirit and consciousness.  All these qualities and more can be found in the historical events that occurred beginning in 1839 and continuing today, as an inspiration to us all, to commit or re-dedicate our lives to resistance against oppression as well as building the kinds of community and world where racial and other kinds of discrimination and oppression are a thing of the past.




    In the 19th Century, La Amistad (Spanish: "Friendship") gained historical significance as the setting for the determination of Africans to resist captivity.  Seen in the light of today’s transnationality, the ship was very interesting, as it had multiple identities/origins/affiliations. This two-masted schooner was constructed in the United States and  was owned by a Spaniard resident in Cuba.  It plied the high seas, and in the incident that made it famous, it was transporting Sengbe Pieh, also known as Joseph Cinqué and fifty six fellow Africans (52 adults and 4 children) from Havana to Puerto Principe, Cuba.  On July 1, 1839, Sengbe led a rebellion in which the Africans took control of the ship.  The Africans seized the ship, killed the captain and the cook, and ordered the planters to sail to Africa. On August 24, 1839, the Amistad was seized off Long Island, NY, by the U.S. brig Washington. Unfortunately, they were tricked by Don Pedro Montez, the ship's navigator, whose life they had spared, and whom they depended upon to help them get back home, and instead, ended up at the eastern tip of Long Island, New York.  On August 24, 1839, while some of the former captives were negotiating with two men on the shore, still trying to get back home, a United States Revenue Cutter Service ship, USS Washington saw the schooner and took custody. The Africans were brought to Connecticut for sale into slavery.  In the legal wrangle that ensued, La Amistad came to symbolize the abolitionist movement’s efforts.  In an 1841 case that began in New Haven, Connecticut, but went all the way to the US Supreme Court, a determination had to be made about the status of the Africans, since the importation of slaves had been banned in the US since 1808.


    In order to perpetrate the fraud that would enable them profit from selling the Africans, La Amistad’s owners said that Sengbe and the 56 Africans were born in Cuba.  In reality, the Africans had been captured in Mende country in what is today’s Sierra Leone.  They were then transported to Cuba on the slave ship Tecora.  The court had to decide the status of the Africans and 2 Spaniards.  While the Spaniards were freed, the Africans were kept in jail in New Haven, Connecticut.  They were charged with murder.  These charges were dismissed but the following questions were considered important as well: were they “salvage and the property of Naval officers who had taken custody of the ship?”  Were they “the property of the Cuban buyers or of Spain as Queen Isabella II of Spain claimed?” Or were they to be considered free due to “the circumstances of their capture and transportation?”


    President Van Buren was in favor of extraditing the Africans to Cuba. However, abolitionists in the North opposed extradition and raised money to defend the Africans. Claims to the Africans by the planters, the government of Spain, and the captain of the brig led the case to trial in the Federal District Court in Connecticut. The court ruled that the case fell within Federal jurisdiction and that the claims to the Africans as property were not legitimate because they were illegally held as slaves. The case went to the Supreme Court in January 1841, and former President John Quincy Adams argued the defendants' case. Adams defended the right of the accused to fight to regain their freedom. The US Supreme Court ruled in 1841 that the transportation and captivity of the Africans was illegal.  It ordered their freedom.  In 1842, the survivors, of this ordeal (now only 35 people) returned to Africa.




    The decision of the Supreme Court was written and read by Senior Justice Joseph Story. The Court ruled in the first place, that Cinque and the other Africans aboard the Amistad were free, since they had been kidnapped and transported illegally, meaning that while they had been treated as such, in truth, they were not slaves, and had never been.


    As often happens with legal matters, this too was a political decision.  Justice Story reportedly wrote before the Amistad ruling that ". . . it was the ultimate right of all human beings in extreme cases to resist oppression, and to apply force against ruinous injustice," but according to the opinion expressed in this case, there was a very narrow support for the right of the Amistad Africans to resist "unlawful" slavery.  We should also bear in mind that at the same time, chattel slavery was a fact of life for many Africans in America (Archives.org n.d.).


    Nine people of African descent have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  Here are their names and the dates given,

     in reverse chronological order. 

    ·     2009 - Barack H. Obama *

    ·     2004 - Wangari Maathai *

    ·     2001 - United Nations, Kofi Annan *

    ·     1993 - Nelson Mandela,* F.W. de Klerk

    ·     1984 - Desmond Tutu *

    ·     1978 - Anwar al-Sadat*, Menachem Begin

    ·     1964 - Martin Luther King Jr. *

    ·     1960 - Albert Lutuli*

    ·     1950 - Ralph Bunche *

    We have Barack H. Obama as the latest recipient and Ralph Bunche as the earliest.  Although it would have been much more interesting to apply this analysis to all nine, I chose in this article, to focus on the first, last and only woman recipient.  From Ralph Bunche to Barack Obama, each and every person of African descent that has been honored with the Nobel Peace Prize is connected to the Amistad Africans’ struggle for human dignity, freedom and human rights.  However, the purity of these struggles can be clouded by reason of state—as is clear with the Obama Nobel.  Being the President of the most powerful country in the world carries its challenges, since personal conviction may conflict with perceived national interest.  This is why Obama the candidate, is so radically different from Obama the President, and why the Just War principle or the Obama doctrine cannot convince his critics that he is deserving of the Nobel.  However, we should probably give President Obama a chance to demonstrate how the aspirational character of this award motivates him to do better in supporting, promoting and defending world peace. 


    The announcement that President Barack Obama was the 2009 recipient of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize attracted a lot of attention and raised a great deal of furor.  Many of the responses were negative, the rationale being that this was an untested, even much too young man who presided over a country embroiled in two wars.  Many pundits actually advised that the most honorable thing is for Obama to reject the Nobel.  Some of them, like the late Howard Zinn, are people whose opinion I respect.  But then as I look through the list of men and woman awarded the Nobel in the past, I don’t think one could justify Barack Obama’s exclusion.  More than that, if considered in light of practical human responses to being awarded a distinguished prize such as the Nobel, the everyday aphorism:  “never look a gift horse in the mouth” becomes even more relevant.  My point is that most people who are selected for an award, particularly one like the Nobel would probably feel deserving of it, particularly people who are socially conscious, dedicated to the cause of making a better world, and committed to struggling for equity, justice, as well as peace.   As a practical matter, it would probably not occur to most such people that there might be people more deserving of the award, than they.  Contrary to such tendencies, Barack Obama reflected upon the award in his speech, “A Just and lasting peace,” said:  I receive this honor with deep gratitude and great humility. It is an award that speaks to our highest aspirations – that for all the cruelty and hardship of our world, we are not mere prisoners of fate. Our actions matter, and can bend history in the direction of justice.”

    In any case, why did The Norwegian Nobel Committee chose Barack Obama for this award?  According to Thorbjørn Jagland in his presentation speech:

    his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples… vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons…[with] “a new climate in international politics [where] 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 Oslo, October 9, 2009 (Nobel Peace Prize 2009).

    For 108 years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to stimulate precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which Obama is now the world's leading spokesman. The Committee endorses Obama's appeal that "Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges."

    As reported by Thorbjørn Jagland, and as we all probably remember, President Obama humbly claimed that there were others more deserving, others more courageous, others more transformative.  But as well, one could consider the Prize as making "a call to action".  According to Thorbjørn Jagland,  President Obama has understood the Norwegian Nobel Committee perfectly. We congratulate him on this year's Nobel Peace Prize!  (Jagland 2009)

    The Nobel was also awarded because of the contemporary world situation where there is:

    great tension, numerous wars, unresolved conflicts and confrontation on many fronts ... the imminent danger of the spread of nuclear weapons, degradation of the environment and global warming. In fact, Time Magazine recently described the decade that is coming to an end as the worst since the end of World War II.

    From the very first moment of his presidency, President Obama has been trying to create a more cooperative climate which can help reverse the present trend. He has already "lowered the temperature in the world", in the words of former Peace Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu.


    The Committee always takes Alfred Nobel's will as its frame of reference. We are to award the Nobel Peace Prize to the person who, during the "preceding year", meaning in this case since the previous award in December 2008, 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" – to quote from the will (Jagland 2009).

    The question was actually quite simple. Who has done most for peace in the past year? If the question is put in Nobel's terms, the answer is relatively easy to find: it had to be U.S. President Barack Obama. Only rarely does one person dominate international politics to the same extent as Obama, or in such a short space of time initiate so many and such major changes as Obama has done. The question for the Committee was rather whether it would be bold enough to single out the most powerful man in the world, with the responsibility and the obligations that come with the office of the President of the United States (Jagland 2009).

    The Committee decided to encourage Obama’s political leadership as an attempt to “get the world on a safer track” given that humanity does not have the luxury of time.  While there have been critiques that the award came too early, the committee points to historical evidence of “lost opportunities” to embrace good ideas and good leaders.  It sees its decision as “the opportunity to support President Obama's ideas as well as “a call to action to all of us”.  Encouraging us to “weigh his ideals against what he really does,” it also cautions against seeing life and the choices required to ethical and socially conscious as a choice between being true to one’s ideals in a strict, unbending manner not to have ideals at all, since doing this would stymie dreams and visions of a better tomorrow, as well as interject pure cynicism and realpolitik into politics (Jagland 2009).

    Contrary to much of the sound and fury about whether or not Obama deserves the award, the committee commends him for having excelled in multilateral diplomacy…given the acknowledgment of the importance of the United Nations and other international institutions expressed for example, through the following steps:  “The U.S.A. is now paying its bills to the U.N. It is joining various committees, and acceding to important conventions. International standards are again respected. Torture is forbidden; the President is doing what he can to close Guantanamo. Human rights and international law are guiding principles”.  These measures have not only been noticed by other world leaders, they have been praised as the dawn of a new day and the creation of new opportunities for peace to reign in the world, at least to the extent possible, given the specter of nuclear war, and the urgent need for non-proliferation.  Obama has worked assiduously for disarmament and arms control negotiations through leadership in the U.N. Security Council, to push” its unanimous support to the vision of a world without nuclear weapons; rethinking of US plans for “deployment in Eastern Europe of the planned anti-missile defences [and its consideration of] other multilateral options to secure the region.  As a consequence, given that nuclear powers’ unwillingness to disarm will spur on a new arms race, under President Obama, strategic nuclear weapons negotiations between the U.S. and Russia Federation have improved, and the world’s expectation of a new agreement between both nations “is encouraging even the smaller nuclear powers to make cuts,” while also signaling  that the Non-Proliferation Treaty is still an important part of global architecture for peace and collective security in our world (Jagland 2009).


    The US now favors dialogue and negotiations as the ideal tools  for conflict resolution, including intractable international problems like nuclear nonproliferation and where the prospects that negotiations will succeed seem at best remote, but under the Obama administration the US has decided to put its efforts into these negotiations, hopeful that they will succeed.  The US is also engaged in coalition building and desirous of making alliances.  There are many trouble spots, including Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran, and while ultimately, these countries’ problems can only be solved by their own peoples, the Obama Administration wants to lead multilateral efforts to engage these problems.

    The struggle against climate change also is an issue area where the US has abandoned unilateralism in favor of “concrete proposals,” thus articulating U.S intentions of fostering very soon.  The People’s Republic of China’s rise into prominence as an important actor in the international political economy and its complex economic linkages with the US means that the US must make great effort to work toward close cooperation with China on many fronts—the environment, where both of them are the greatest polluter thus far (the U.S), and the greatest potential polluter of future (China).  For IR scholars, the decline of one hegemon and rise of another is a very troubling time because of the prospect of “war and conflict”. The Obama administration's attitude and behavior thus far shows that it is more interested in cooperation that conflict, and this is also somewhat comforting.

    The committee applauded Obama's diplomacy for its foundation on the principle “that whoever is 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.” This principle for the committee, connects Obama with past American presidents “who, above all others, were seen as world leaders also outside the United States: Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.”  It also to their mind connects the ideals of the US with those of the world, as well as American hearts and minds with the hearts and minds of the peoples of the world.  The committee said: “Obama's ideals coincide to a large extent with the ideals that have underpinned the activities of the Norwegian Nobel Committee throughout our 108-year history: to strengthen international institutions as much as possible; to advance democracy and human rights; to reduce the importance of arms and preferably do away with nuclear arms altogether; to promote dialogue and negotiations; and, in the last few years, to adopt effective measures to meet the climate threat.”

    That the award could be considered “aspirational” was not a problem for the committee, after all, while some of those honored with the prize were:

    persons or institutions that have achieved fundamental agreements or other results which have stood the test of history… at least as many awards… have gone to those who tried to bring about fundamental changes in international politics, but where the results were still unclear at the time when they received their awards. Woodrow Wilson's prize came when he was at his weakest both politically and personally, after suffering a stroke. He had created the League of Nations, but the United States would not join. Wilson was a hero to the world, but not in the U.S.A. The American Secretary of State Cordell Hull received the award after the establishment of the United Nations, but so early that no one could be sure how significant the U.N. would be.

    Many have been awarded the Peace Prize for their courage, even when the results for a long time seemed modest: Carl von Ossietzky, Andrej Sakharov, Lech Walesa and the Dalai Lama, to name a few. When Albert Lutuli received his Peace Prize, the struggle against apartheid was in its infancy: there were few results to point to. When Martin Luther King, Jr., received his award, he had proclaimed his dream that "my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character," but there was still a long way to go from dream to reality (Jagland 2009).

    The committee also saw Obama’s Presidency as vindicating its choice of Dr. Martin Luther King in 1964, a time when it seemed that his dream ephemeral.  The decision to nurture a dream in the case of Rev. Dr. MLK is similar to the decision to honor Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin in 1978, for contributions to peace in the Middle East, even though the region experienced many wars, and much conflict and tensions subsequently.  As the Committee asked and answered a key question:

    Why does the Nobel Committee not wait until final peace agreements have been concluded? Nothing is final in history. It always moves on. Peace must be built again and again. The Norwegian Nobel Committee can not award a Peace Prize where nothing has been achieved. If the principles are important enough, however, and the struggle over them is vital to the future of the world, the Committee can not wait until we are certain that the principles have won on all fronts. That would make the Prize a rather belated stamp of approval and not an instrument for peace in the world.

    This must surely be Nobel's "fraternity between nations” (Jagland 2009).

    With hindsight, we all take it for granted that past Nobels reflect incontrovertible evidence that those selected were revered and applauded, but if one considers President Woodrow Wilson for example, his progressive actions on the world stage were not matched by his perspectives on race at home, which were quite unprogressive, to say the least.  Regardless, as a world leader, Wilson worked assiduously to build international cooperation and democracy, and he only had modest success in both respects.  We all probably know that US support for democracy abroad did not match its treatment of people of African descent at home, and that the promotion of democracy abroad is an enterprise that is fraught with rhetorical good intentions but many problematic alliances, for example, with right wing dictators and sundry authoritarian leaders.  

    Obama’s internationalism was connected by the committee to the legacy of Presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry Truman, particularly in light of US contributions to founding and funding the UN.  Similarly, Obama’s speech in Berlin in July 2008 is taken as an indication of his fundamental belief in removing all barriers to human progress, development and equality: “The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand. The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christians and Muslims and Jews cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down” (Jagland 2009).

    The Nobel Peace Award was unequivocal in its belief that Obama is the right choice. For them: “President Obama is a political leader who understands that even the mightiest are vulnerable when they stand alone. He is a man who believes in the strength of a community, be it the local community where he started his career many years ago or the global community which he leads today. Obama has the audacity to hope and the tenacity to make these hopes come true.

    This is what makes him so important. By his own behavior and leadership he is demanding that we all "take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges". We congratulate this year's Laureate, President Barack H. Obama, on what he has already achieved, and wish him every possible success in his continuing efforts for a more peaceful world. May you receive the help you truly deserve!” (Jagland 2009).

    In order to understand how Barack H. Obama understands, rationalizes and attempts to explicate the contradictions of receiving a Peace award while he is in continuing two wars begun by his predecessor, although he promised to end one very soon and the other later, we should consider his speech at the Award.  Barack Obama was remarkable in both his recognition of the questions raised about the committee’s choice, since he was a relative newcomer both to being top executive in the US and to international politics, where he must represent US national interest.  Given the youth of his administration, Obama felt that his “accomplishments are slight [when] compared to some of the giants of history who've received this prize – Schweitzer and King; Marshall and Mandela.” So, too, in light of the sacrifices of “the men and women around the world who have been jailed and beaten in the pursuit of justice; those who toil in humanitarian organizations to relieve suffering; the unrecognized millions whose quiet acts of courage and compassion inspire even the most hardened cynics.”  Obama also was frank in his assessment of the incongruity of being “the Commander-in-Chief of the military of a nation in the midst of two wars.”  He tried to justify America’s involvement in these wars thus:  “One of these wars is winding down. The other is a conflict that America did not seek; one in which we are joined by forty two other countries – including Norway – in an effort to defend ourselves and all nations from further attacks.” (Obama 2009)

    But he did not dismiss the concerns that these wars were destructive and destabilizing to world peace.  According to him, the U.S. is engaged in war, and he bears the responsibility for the deploying “thousands of young Americans to battle in a distant land.”  He also recognized that armed conflict is destructive in terms of its effects on the combatants, their families, their countries, and even more so for those innocents caught in the throes of war due to no fault of their own.  As a student of international politics, I agree with Obama’s assessment, that questions about the relationship between war and peace have troubled our consciousness for as long as humanity has reasoned in a purposeful manner about the fundamental meaning of life.

    Obama’s “just war” principle draws upon,  in the first place, the thought of Augustine of Hippo, who is as we all know, African.  While human beings were not initially concerned with whether or not war was morally justified, eventually, the desire to control violence through law,  extended to philosophical and ecclesiastical considerations of how to regulate war and the destruction that it lets loose.  Essentially, these were inquiries into whether or not there are circumstances under which war could possibly be justified.  The consensus was that if war is a last resort or for self-defense; if proportional force is used; and if to the extent possible, non-combatants are spared from violence, war is justified.

    Obama was honest because he confirmed what we all know, human beings have never truly lived true to the injunctions of the "just war" principle, whether due to cruelty, or religious intolerance, or for reasons of inability to discern who’s a combatant and who the civilians are. Very few would argue that the war against Hitler’s Third Reich and the Axis powers during World War II was not just.  The efforts made to guarantee collective security following both this and the First World War—the UN and its predecessor, the League of Nations, “an idea for which Woodrow Wilson received this prize” were presented by Obama as American leadership of global efforts to put muscles behind the phrase: “never again.”  The Marshall Plan, human rights treaties and those against genocide, and the laws of war are all attempts to curtail the destruction from war.  Some of these efforts he saw as responsible for the fact that we have not had a Third World War.  They also mean that in spite of The Cold War and many other low intensity but terribly destructive wars, the efflorescence of commerce the consequent creation of wealth have reduced the numbers of those beaten down by poverty. In addition, values like “liberty and self-determination, equality and the rule of law have haltingly advanced. We are the heirs of the fortitude and foresight of generations past, and it is a legacy for which my own country is rightfully proud.” (Obama 2009).


    It is also to his credit that Obama acknowledged the tremendous strain and potential problems presented by new challenges to global peace “this old architecture is buckling under the weight of new threats. The world may no longer shudder at the prospect of war between two nuclear superpowers, but proliferation may increase the risk of catastrophe. Terrorism has long been a tactic, but modern technology allows a few small men with outsized rage to murder innocents on a horrific scale.”  Compounding the problem is the growing incidence of civil wars arising out of ethnic and religious, conflicts; secessionist attempts, insurgencies, and weak, ineffectual states that cause more civilian deaths and make wars intractable economies “wrecked, civil societies torn asunder, refugees amassed, children scarred” (Obama 2009).

    While acknowledging that he had no “definitive solution to the problems of war,” he recommends being rededicated to “the same vision, hard work, and persistence of those men and women who acted so boldly decades ago [a]nd ….. think[ing] in new ways about the notions of just war and the imperatives of a just peace.  Even while making a nod toward Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s. Nobel Award speech when he said: "Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones."  And while linking himself to “Dr. King's life work, [as a] living testimony to the moral force of non-violence, and while clearly stating that “there's nothing weak – nothing passive – nothing naïve – in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King,” Obama still said: “We will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes,…There will be times when nations – acting individually or in concert – will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified” (Obama 2009).

    In what appeared to some pundits as though he was channeling Presidents George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, Obama spoke of his responsibility as American “head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation,” and the imperative of being realistic and practical in responding to “threats to the American people… Evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler's armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda's leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism – it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason” (Obama 2009).

    Obama also chided the world for the general and “deep ambivalence about military action today, no matter what the cause... and … a reflexive suspicion of America, the world's sole military superpower.”  He reminded the world of US efforts to “underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms… not simply international institutions – not just treaties and declarations – that brought stability to a post-World War II world.”  He also lauded the US for its efforts to export democracy “in places like the Balkans… claiming that the US carried “this burden not because we seek to impose our will. We have done so out of enlightened self-interest – because we seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if others' children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity” (Obama 2009).

    At the same time, he recognized the tragedy of war, the sacrifices that it demands of combatants, and that “war itself is never glorious, and we must never trumpet it as such”. He could see the contradiction, and sought to address it.  How does a rational human being reconcile “these two seemingly inreconcilable truths – that war is sometimes necessary, and war at some level is an expression of human folly…Concretely, we must direct our effort to the task that President Kennedy called for long ago. "Let us focus," he said, "on a more practical, more attainable peace, based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions. A gradual evolution of human institutions.” He also attempted to describe this evolution and practical steps:  

    “all nations – strong and weak alike – must adhere to standards that govern the use of force. I – like any head of state – reserve the right to act unilaterally if necessary to defend my nation. Nevertheless, I am convinced that adhering to standards, international standards, strengthens those who do, and isolates and weakens those who don't…I believe that force can be justified on humanitarian grounds, as it was in the Balkans, or in other places that have been scarred by war. Inaction tears at our conscience and can lead to more costly intervention later. That's why all responsible nations must embrace the role that militaries with a clear mandate can play to keep the peace.”  He also recommends multilateralism in conflict resolution and peacekeeping,

    Obama tried to reflect on the historicity of his Nobel when he said:  “Even as we make difficult decisions about going to war, we must also think clearly about how we fight it. The Nobel Committee recognized this truth in awarding its first prize for peace to Henry Dunant – the founder of the Red Cross, and a driving force behind the Geneva Conventions.”  Thus, torture must be prohibited as an instrument of war, the prison at Guantanamo Bay would be closed and America would obey international laws of war as encompassed by the Geneva Conventions.

    For Obama, having to wage war may be a necessary evil, but there is still a need to “build a just and lasting peace.”  He suggests three things:

    i.         Curtailing countries that do not observe and respect international law by developing “alternatives to violence that are tough enough to actually change behavior.”  Compelling accountability in international relations through effective sanctions and pressure from a united international community. He expressed his commitment to upholding the nuclear non proliferation treaty as a centerpiece of his foreign policy.  While negotiating reduction in America and Russia's nuclear stockpiles, he also wants the whole world, [and not just the US] to ensure that Iran and North Korea respect international law against nuclear proliferation.

    Similarly, international humanitarian law that forbids governments from “brutalizing their own people” must also be enforced.  This covers genocide (Darfur), the use of rape as an instrument of war (Congo), repression (Burma) – through engagement; diplomacy and sanctions (consequences) imposed by the entire world.

    ii.        What kind of peace is desirable?  “Not merely the absence of visible conflict [but] …a just peace based on the inherent rights and dignity of every individual” as endorsed by the drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights… [who] recognized that if human rights are not protected, peace is a hollow promise. And human rights are not just Western principles, nor are they dependent on a country’s stage of development, nor on “the tension between realism or idealism – or the “stark choice between the narrow pursuit of interests [realism] or an endless campaign to impose our values around the world [idealism]. Instead, for Obama, “peace is unstable” in the absence of human rights and “neither America's interests – nor the world's – are served by the denial of human aspirations.”

    a.        In addition, human rights must be promoted through “exhortation… painstaking diplomacy” even in the case of repressive regimes because “sanctions without outreach – condemnation without discussion – can carry forward only a crippling status quo. No repressive regime can move down a new path unless it has the choice of an open door.”

    b.        Examples:  during the Cultural Revolution Nixon met with Mao.  “Pope John Paul's engagement with Poland created space not just for the Catholic Church, but for labor leaders like Lech Walesa. Ronald Reagan's efforts on arms control and embrace of perestroika not only improved relations with the Soviet Union, but empowered dissidents throughout Eastern Europe... we must try as best we can to balance isolation and engagement, pressure and incentives, so that human rights and dignity are advanced over time.”

    iii.      Just peace means guarantees of “civil and political rights [as well as] economic security and opportunity. For true peace is not just freedom from fear, but freedom from want.”

    a.        For there to be development, there must be security; for there to be security, people’s basic needs must be met, and this includes education, access to jobs, hope for a better tomorrow, food, medical care, and helping give access to such things “is not mere charity.” 

    b.        In addition, “the world must come together to confront climate change... if we do nothing, we will face more drought, more famine, more mass displacement – all of which will fuel more conflict for decades. For this reason, it is not merely scientists and environmental activists who call for swift and forceful action – it's military leaders in my own country and others who understand our common security hangs in the balance (Obama 2009).

    So, a just and peaceful world requires “Agreements among nations. Strong institutions. Support for human rights. Investments in development. All these are vital ingredients in bringing about the evolution that President Kennedy spoke about. And yet, I do not believe that we will have the will, the determination, the staying power, to complete this work without something more – and that's the continued expansion of our moral imagination; an insistence that there's something irreducible that we all share” (Obama 2009).

    As Obama sees it, globalization and the supposedly smaller world has not meant that “human beings… recognize how similar we are; …understand that we're all basically seeking the same things; that we all hope for the chance to live out our lives with some measure of happiness and fulfillment for ourselves and our families.  Paradoxically, probably due to the “dizzying pace of globalization, the cultural leveling of modernity… people fear the loss of what they cherish in their particular identities”… race, ethnicity, and religion, sometimes causing conflict.  Religion in particular has been used as justification for attacks against innocent civilians, as done in the name of Islam, by attackers from Afghanistan. Unlike superficial analysis that lays all such violence exclusively at the feet of Muslims, Obama reminds us that there are examples like “the cruelties of the Crusades” which indicate that it is impossible for a Holy War to be a just war, since those who act from the conviction that they are doing God’s work tend to be uncompromising and relentless.  But this is a distortion that makes it impossible to live in peace, and the injunction central to all religions—“that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us” (Obama 2009).

    Waxing religious and pious, Obama also enjoins us to “obey the law of love as an intrinsic part of the “struggle of human nature”.  We should also realize that we are not perfect.  We are proud, seek power, sometimes do evil, But we can still seek perfection by working to make the world a better place. Gandhi and King’s non-violence “…may not have been practical or possible in every circumstance, but the love that they preached – their fundamental faith in human progress – that must always be the North Star that guides us on our journey… For if we lose that faith – if we dismiss it as silly or naïve; if we divorce it from the decisions that we make on issues of war and peace – then we lose what's best about humanity. We lose our sense of possibility. We lose our moral compass.  Again invoking Dr. King at the Nobel, Obama said, "I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the ‘isness’ of man’s present condition makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal ‘oughtness’ that forever confronts him.”

    Obama ended his address thus:

    Somewhere today, in the here and now, in the world as it is, a soldier sees he's outgunned, but stands firm to keep the peace. Somewhere today, in this world, a young protestor awaits the brutality of her government, but has the courage to march on. Somewhere today, a mother facing punishing poverty still takes the time to teach her child, scrapes together what few coins she has to send that child to school – because she believes that a cruel world still has a place for that child's dreams.

    Let us live by their example. We can acknowledge that oppression will always be with us, and still strive for justice. We can admit the intractability of depravation, and still strive for dignity. Clear-eyed, we can understand that there will be war, and still strive for peace. We can do that – for that is the story of human progress; that's the hope of all the world; and at this moment of challenge, that must be our work here on Earth (Obama 2009).



    In 2004, Dr. (Mama) Wangari Muta Maathai was awarded the Peace Prize "for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace" (The Nobel Peace Prize 2004 Wangari Muta Maathai).  She was the first woman of African descent to win the Peace Prize as well as the first Sub Saharan African woman to win a Nobel.  On April 1, 1940, she was born in Ihithe village, Tetu Division, Nyeri District in Kenya.  She has the distinction of being the first woman to earn a doctoral degree from East and Central Africa.  Her tertiary education began at Mount St. Scholastica College in Atchison, Kansas, from which she graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences in 1964.  She went on to the University of Pittsburgh and graduated with an M.Sc. in 1966.  Her Ph.D. training began in Germany and was concluded at the University of Nairobi in 1971. 

    Mama Maathai’s teaching career commenced at the University of Nairobi as a Lecturer in veterinary anatomy, and later, Chair of the Department and Associate professor.  She was also the first woman in each instance to rise to these positions.  Wangari Maathai is a social and political activist.  She was a member of the National Council of Women of Kenya from 1976-87, and despite government intrigues to subvert her, became its chairman from 1981-87.  

    Mama Wangari Maathai was an environmental activist long before the idea became popular.  As with many of her activities, she was a pioneer. Her tree planting idea began in 1976, a response to soil erosion, increased scarcity of fuelwood and deforestation, all of which put increased pressure on women who sought to guarantee family food security and survival.  She working primarily with women to encourage and support as well as advocate and implement the planting of trees for environmental conservation and subsistence and income generation.  Her work in this area created the Green Belt Movement (GBM), which by the date of the Nobel, had spread to other African countries to form the Pan African Green Belt Network. Members came from Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Lesotho, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and other African countries.  As a result of the work of the Network, women throughout the continent were motivated to plant more than 20 million trees. 

    Mama Wangari’s activism continued in her involvement with the Jubilee 2000 Coalition, and she co-chaired the Jubilee 2000 Africa Campaign from September 1998.  The campaign worked for the cancellation of the heavy debts owed by African countries to the rich industrialized countries like the US and its European allies by the year 2000.  She also had active interest in Kenyan politics where she campaigned against land grabbing and the enclosure of the commons by rich and powerful cronies of the political elite through allotments of forest land without concern for the environmental effects or the interests of the majority of Kenyans. 

    Mama Maathai’s activist politics in promotion and defense of democracy, and environmental integrity as well as her public leadership of protests and demonstrations, sometimes using indigenous women’s methods of resistance to oppression such as stripping naked, led to physical assault, jail terms and vilification inflicted upon her the Kenyan state under the  Daniel arap Moi administration.  She did not give up.  In 1977, her husband left her, and the separation became permanent with a public and painful divorce in 1979.  Her public responses in an interview to the patriarchal decision of the court led to the judge sentencing her to a six-month prison term.  She sued and was freed after serving three days.  Maathai was broke from the divorce expenses, and pushed into further economic insecurity by the Moi government, which found her activism in defense of women’s and environmental rights and democracy distasteful. However, while also looking, Maathai continued her international activism on women’s rights, social, economic, and political justice, environmental integrity and human rights continued to gain prominence and recognition.  She was honored with numerous awards, as well as honorary doctoral degrees.

    In December 2002, Mama Wangari Maathai secured 98% of the vote as an elected member of the Kenyan national parliament, representing Tetu constituency in Nyeri district.  She was later appointed Assistant Minister for Environment, Natural Resources and Wildlife (Tore Frängsmyr 2005 ).  Mama Maathai rejected the appointment after the Mwai Kibaki-led government lost a constitutional referendum in 2005 (Nobel Laureate - Wangari Maathai May Lose In Elections 2007). In August 2006, she met Senator Barack Obama, who was visiting Kenya.  Obama’s father was a Kenyan that was also a beneficiary of the same scholarship that enabled Mama Maathai to study in the US.  In 2007, she ran to represent her constituency and lost.  Her GBM work has continued.

    Professor Ole Danbolt Mjøs, Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, justified its selection of Mama Maathai in the Presentation Speech on December 10, 2004 by making a linkage between peace and the environment thus: 

    Peace on earth depends on our ability to secure our living environment. Maathai stands at the front of the fight to promote ecologically viable social, economic and cultural development in Kenya and in Africa. She has taken a holistic approach to sustainable development that embraces democracy, human rights and women's rights in particular. She thinks globally and acts locally…. You have shown what it means to be a true African mother and a true African woman. Kenya admires you! Africa admires you! The world admires you! May your unceasing fight for the right always remain a source of inspiration for mankind.

    Mjøs anticipated Obama’s aspirational characterization of his Nobel when he said about Maathai’s:

    Your name will figure prominently in the history of the Peace Prize, together with the other African Peace Prize Laureates: Albert Lutuli, Anwar Sadat, Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, Fredrik Willem de Klerk and Kofi Annan. We hope the Peace Prize may be an inspiration for positive change in your beloved Kenya, in Africa, and in the many countries in the world that need to hear your voice. 

    Your goal is to protect God's creation "so that this earth can become the Garden of Eden that God created". From 1950 to 2000, Kenya lost 90 per cent of its forests. You founded the Green Belt Movement, in which over a period of nearly thirty years you have mobilised poor women to plant thirty million trees. Your methods have also been adopted in other countries. We are all witnesses to how deforestation and forest loss have led to desertification in Africa and threatened many other regions of the world – also in Europe. Protecting forests to stop desertification is a major step towards strengthening our common global environment. Through education, family planning, nutrition, and the fight against corruption, the Green Belt Movement is creating conditions for development at grass-root level.

    The paths to peace are multiple and varied.  The Nobel Committee has always given a broad conceptual definition of peace, as affirmed by the wide variety of individuals and organizations selected for the Nobel Peace Prize, including

    Statesmen and politicians…at the international, the regional and the national level…. Major humanitarian organizations, and individuals engaged in humanitarian work…. promoting the "fraternity between nations" of which Alfred Nobel speaks in his will…. those who have worked for disarmament or arms control [whose work] relate directly to the "abolition or reduction of standing armies" that Nobel also mentions. In recent decades, the Nobel Committee has made human rights a central element of the definition of peace. There were many warnings against such a broadening of the concept of peace. Today there are few things peace researchers and other scholars are readier to agree on than precisely that democracy and human rights advance peace. The Norwegian Nobel Committee has believed so for over forty years, if not indeed much longer.

    While the incongruity of the Obama Nobel seemed clear to observers and pundits, Maathai’s Nobel also generated some puzzlement, and the Committee sought to explain why someone whose activism had been predominantly in the area of environmental activism could be said to have contributed to world peace.  It was clear that the Committee “evidently broadened its definition of peace still further. Environmental protection has become yet another path to peace.”   Although Mama Wangari Maathai had also made noteworthy efforts to democracy, human rights, and women's rights, she was by no means a household name to all and sundry worldwide.  Neither were some earlier Laureates.

    The Nobel Committee was emphatic in its insistence that peace and the environment are connected.  There is evidence that such a relationship exists where conflicts on access to scarce resources like oil, water, minerals or timber erupt and persist. It gave the example of the Middle East, Africa, Indonesia and Brazil, arguing that ecological issues can also cause conflict, as with Darfur, where the desert increasingly encroaches on the grazing lands for Arab nomads.  The conflict between nomads and farmers is as much driven by this phenomenon as by any other cause.  The Philippines, Chiapas, Mexico, Haiti, Amazonas, and the Himalayas have all experienced the deleterious effects of environmental degradation, causing tension between people, groups and nations.  

    According to Mama Maathai, inequitable access to the world’s resources contributes to tensions and conflicts locally, nationally and globally.  While at the time of her Nobel, the world was not convinced that she was right, the Nobel Committee agreed with her and expressed confidence that …within a few decades, when researchers have developed more comprehensive analyses of many of the world's conflicts, the relation between the environment, resources and conflict may seem almost as obvious as the connection we see today between human rights, democracy and peace.”  As well, international cooperation is necessary for the resolution of environmental problems.  The planting of trees is a concrete expression of commitment to peace, and the involvement of African women is a continuation of their contribution to development.

    The Committee also expressed the hope that Wangari Maathai would lead the struggle to combat HIV/AIDS, educational disparities that favor boys over girls, and foster optimism that the continent’s problems can be solved  (The Nobel Peace Prize 2004 Wangari Muta Maathai 2004;  Tore Frängsmyr 2005).

    Mama Waathai’s speech like Obama’s, recognized that many people who work the hardest get neither acknowledgment nor affirmation.  She also acknowledged the debt owed to the people of Kenya who maintained the stubborn hope that democracy and environmental integrity are possible, and were ready to fight for them, in addition to “African Peace laureates, Presidents Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the late Chief Albert Luthuli, the late Anwar el-Sadat and the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan.” According to her:


    Although this prize comes to me, it acknowledges the work of countless individuals and groups across the globe. They work quietly and often without recognition to protect the environment, promote democracy, defend human rights and ensure equality between women and men. By so doing, they plant seeds of peace. I know they, too, are proud today. To all who feel represented by this prize I say use it to advance your mission and meet the high expectations the world will place on us.


    Echoing the Nobel Committee’s assessment that linkage between the environment, democracy and peace has not yet been recognized by the world, she lauded their “visionary action”, hoping that the world would recognize “that sustainable development, democracy and peace are indivisible” and the world should engage the reduction of conflicts and poverty and consequent improvements in the quality of life of ordinary people as serious challenges.  Democratic governance, human rights and environmental integrity are crucial and can be addressed by ordinary people.  


    The power of Mama Maathai’s childhood socialization and experiences as well as her formal education inspired her interest in nature.  She also questioned the destructive practices of mainstream development initiatives that replaced peasant farms with agribusiness and replaced food production with the production of exports in a manner that “destroyed local biodiversity and the capacity of the forests to conserve water.”  Mama Maathai was also moved to establish the Green Belt Movement in 1977 to respond “to needs identified by rural women, namely lack of firewood, clean drinking water, balanced diets, shelter and income.”  According to her, the world could learn much from rural women who in the course of fulfilling their family responsibilities and meeting basic needs, like canaries in the mine, give advance warning of “environmental damage as resources become scarce and incapable of sustaining their families.  The terms of trade are also skewed against Africa, affecting poor peasant farmers who are denied a just income and human dignity.  Worse still, “when the environment is destroyed, plundered or mismanaged, we undermine our quality of life and that of future generations.”


    Planting trees has a practical impact because it allows women to meet the basic needs they identify.  It is a simple, exercise that can be accomplished by anyone, and which can produce speedy results.  Trees “provide fuel, food, shelter, and income… employment and improve[ment in] soils and watersheds.”  Women are also able to take charge of their lives, with positive impacts on their socioeconomic situation and family well-being.  Wangari Maathai’s work in leading the GBM is even more transformational because it inspired poor African women to recognize that they have “knowledge and skills” to solve their problems instead of looking to the outside world.  She was also able to demonstrate that environmental well-being is connected to the basic needs of people being met, peace, security and sustainable development.


    The GBM’s work also includes citizen education to help


    people identify their problems, the causes and possible solutions… make connections between their own personal actions and the problems they witness in the environment and in society… learn that our world is confronted with a litany of woes: corruption, violence against women and children, disruption and breakdown of families, and disintegration of cultures and communities…. identify the abuse of drugs and chemical substances, especially among young people….  devastating diseases that are defying cures or occurring in epidemic proportions. Of particular concern are HIV/AIDS, malaria and diseases associated with malnutrition.


    People are also able to take action to help themselves as well as insist on accountability from their governments.  In their personal relationships, they are also encouraged to “exemplify the leadership values they wish to see in their own leaders, namely justice, integrity and trust”.  The GBM also saw the connection between democracy, peace, and “responsible governance of the environment.”  Connecting with Kikuyu and other African customs that consider trees symbols of peace, GBM began mobilizing Kenyans to plant peace trees to push for peaceful democratic transition, respect for human rights, good governance and environmental integrity. Thus,


    in Nairobi's Uhuru Park, at Freedom Corner, and in many parts of the country, trees of peace were planted to demand the release of prisoners of conscience and a peaceful transition to democracy… the tree also became a symbol for peace and conflict resolution, especially during ethnic conflicts in Kenya when the Green Belt Movement used peace trees to reconcile disputing communities. During the ongoing re-writing of the Kenyan constitution, similar trees of peace were planted in many parts of the country to promote a culture of peace.


    For Maathai and the GBM, cultural heritage such as that found among the Kikuyu and other Africans can motivate people to engage in conservation and peacebuilding, but if cultures are driven to extinction by the imposition or indiscriminate adoption of “new values, local biodiversity is no longer valued or protected and as a result, it is quickly degraded and disappears. For this reason, The Green Belt Movement explores the concept of cultural biodiversity, especially with respect to indigenous seeds and medicinal plants.”


    In 2002, Kenya had a peaceful transition to a democracy, but the struggle continues. Humanity as a whole must develop “a new level of consciousness, …reach a higher moral ground….shed our fear and give hope to each other.  The challenge for Africa is to recognize the urgency of the need to nurture democratic government, expand “democratic and peaceful space”, as well as guarantee environmental integrity and sustainable development.

    Education, skills, power and experience are privileges that should be used to influence positive change and mentor succeeding generations to be better leaders.  Culture, being central to politics, economy and social well being,  is also dynamic can be a force for positive change.  “Africans, especially, should re-discover positive aspects of their culture. In accepting them, they would give themselves a sense of belonging, identity and self-confidence.”


    Civil society and grassroots movements should become catalysts to change.  Governments should recognize their role in fostering the development of responsible citizenship that demands and works for checks and balances in society.  Citizens should struggle for their rights as well as embrace their responsibilities.


    Socially conscious investment should be embraced by owners of capital and industry.  Global institutions should foster “economic justice, equity and ecological integrity” and realize that they are more valuable than “profits at any cost.” 


    The world should also fight against “extreme global inequities” including consumption patterns that “continue at the expense of the environment and peaceful co-existence.”


    The youth should dare to dream and work to actualize their vision for a better world that is committed to sustainable, holistic development in “a world of beauty and wonder” (Maathai 2004).


    The commitment to peace is clearly a thread that runs through the Obama and Maathai visions of the world.  This is also demonstrated in the Bunche perspective and contributions.  However, the involvement of the Obama administration in the Afghanistan and Iraqi conflicts contradict the administration’s professed commitment to peace, necessitating the tortuous explications on the nature of just war and its relevance to the situation which was not created by President Obama, but was inherited from a previous administration.  Obama the candidate condemned these wars and vowed to end them.  Obama the President is forced to succumb to national interest defined in purely hegemonic terms, to impose the US will on the world.  The Nobel award to the first person of African descent to win the Nobel, Ralph Bunche, was not controversial.  However, the struggle for a world without war continues. 



    RALPH BUNCHE , 1950

    On December 10, 1950, the 50th Anniversary of the Nobel Foundation, and the establishment of the Nobel prizes, Ralph Bunche became the first person of African descent to be honored with the Nobel Peace Prize (Bio page: http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1950/index.html).  He was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1904, and died in 1971.  At 46, he was younger than Obama when he got the award, having the distinction of being one of the youngest recipients at the time of his award.  He died a full 20 years after receiving the Nobel, which means that his award could also have been considered “aspirational,” if the measure of this characterization is derived from the youth of the person on whom the award is conferred.  He was also a Professor, although he was a Professor of Politics at Harvard University Cambridge, MA, while Obama was a Professor of Law at the University of Chicago, IL.  Prior to this, Bunche was the Director of the Division of Trusteeship at the United Nations and Acting Mediator in Palestine, 1948.  His distinguished stewardship in both capacities makes it impossible to doubt that he deserved the award (http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1950/index.html). As with Obama, it is necessary to inquire into why the Nobel Committee selected Bunche.  The Presentation Speech by Gunnar Jahn, Chairman of the Committee gives some idea of the public justification offered.  While Ralph was a relatively young man at the time, he had worked assiduously for world peace.  His contributions to the fledgling United Nations, and the administration of the trusteeship system that the new organization established are incontrovertible.  For the Committee, this evidenced Bunche’s contributions to “man's ability to live in peace, harmony, and mutual understanding with his fellows.”

    One would have to dispute the Committee’s overly global statement that “The life story of Dr. Bunche is like that of many another American youth.”  The statement would only be accurate if we qualify the American with African, and acknowledge that the reason why Bunche was born into poverty, why he had to endure child labor, “becoming an errand boy at seven, and at twelve working long hours in a bakery, often until eleven or twelve o'clock at night” was because he was not just American but was a person of African descent.  Bunche also faced the dreadful tragedy of losing both his parents when he was not even a teenager, but he was lucky to have his grandmother seamlessly step in as many an African American grandmother does in times of family distress.  She was affectionately called Nana by Bunche and his siblings.  She took them home with her to Los Angeles.  Even there, Ralph, like many African Americans, had to combine school with work.  As a matter of fact, while a college student at the University of California, he shared this in common with most other American youth, but hard work was embraced by Bunche as vital to building character and preparing one for the challenges of life.

    In a manner that would characterize his modus operandi (MO), Bunche both graduated from  the University of Califomia in 1927, became a Harvard graduate student.  In 1934, he earned a doctoral degree in Political Science.  Bunche began his professional career at Howard University, Washington, DC an instructor in 1928, and was promoted to professor in 1938.  He served in this capacity until 1941.  Bunche connected his scholarship with a drive to understand local and global inequality and relations of power, focusing his research on the study of both colonialism and racism.  It is also a mark of his superior intellect and diligence that he secured a grant from the Social Science Research Council in 1936 to study colonialism and its effects on non-white South Africans.


    Bunche’s research on institutionalized racism in the US led to his collaboration with Gunnar Myrdal in a groundbreaking research on the American Negro1.  In 1941, the US government appointed Bunche as an expert in colonial affairs in the Office of Strategic Services, and in 1944, the State Department appointed him a territorial specialist in colonial affairs.  Almost immediately, in 1945, he rose to the head of this division.  This was a period of Jim Crow racism and segregation, and it was crystal clear that Bunche was the first Negro to be given the opportunity by the US government to apply intellect and education to addressing these serious problems.  By any measure, Ralph Bunche was extraordinary.  He was the official representative of the US in numerous international conferences that were to shape the emergent liberal post World War II international system, since he represented the country at the following:

    1944: Dumbarton Oaks

    1945: International Labor Conference in Philadelphia

    1945: the Constituent Assembly of the United Nations in San Francisco in

    1945 & 1946: United Nations conference in London

    1946: International Labor Conference in Paris.

    In 1946, Bunche was appointed the director of the Trusteeship Department of the United Nations Secretariat.

    Bunche, attributes his success to the influence of his grandmother.  In spite of grueling poverty and the indignities of Jim Crow, Nana, who “had been born into slavery” inspired, mentored, encouraged pushed her extended family to succeed.  She was the matriarchal center and driving force in a multigenerational household including “with her four adult children”, their spouses and their offspring.  To say that life was extraordinarily difficult is to make an understatement.  According to Bunche,

    life was no idyll…I was learning what it meant to be a Negro, even in an enlightened Northern city…I wasn't embittered by such experiences, for Nana had taught me to fight without rancor. She taught all of us to stand up for our rights, to suffer no indignity, but to harbor no bitterness toward anyone, as this would only warp our personalities. Deeply religious, she instilled in us a sense of personal pride strong enough to sustain all external shocks, but she also taught us understanding and tolerance.2

    Bunche also passed on this legacy to his children.  As he said,

    In rearing my children I have passed on the philosophy that Nana taught me as a youngster... The right to be treated as an equal by all other men, she said, is man's birthright. Never permit anyone to treat you otherwise. Who, indeed, is a better American, a better protector of the American heritage, than he who demands the fullest measure of respect for those cardinal principles on which our society is reared? Nana told us that there would be many and great obstacles in our paths and that this was the way of life. But only weaklings give up in the face of obstacles. Be honest and frank with yourself and the world at all times, she said. Never compromise what you know to be the right. Never pick a fight, but never run from one if your principles are at stake. Go out into the world with your head high, and keep it high at all times.»3

    Bunche’s early career and his focus on the study of racism and colonialism yielded significant contributions to scholarship.   His 1936 book, A World View of Race, debunked myths and unscientific analysis that was peddled as top-notch science at the time about race and white superiority.  As well, he critiqued French and British colonial policies, as different but intrinsically committed to inequitable exploitation that denied colonized peoples self-actualization.  Racism for him is conjoined with class into an oppressive system that pushed American society toward class war.  Anticipating later analysis on the deleterious effects of global inequality, and arguing against a mainstream that derided his work as “an oversimplification,” Bunche contended that that material inequality, characterized by the wealth of the developed countries and poverty in the underdeveloped countries created anxieties and potential conflicts that could threaten world peace.  His 1947 essay, “Human Relations in a Modern World,” he said:

    there is nothing in man's nature which makes it impossible for him to live in peace with his fellowmen. Most of us, I believe, would be quite tractable if the pressures exerted by groups or by society would give us the chance. But relations between people are never governed by individuals, for the individual is to a great extent a product of the group to which he belongs and is subordinated to the group in all important questions. The individual in the mass is but a reflection of this group. And so the relations between groups and countries constitute one of the most critical problems of our time.

    Obama’s advocacy for global unity of purpose draws from Bunche’s earlier recommendation of unity of purpose in order that humanity can achieve all the laudable ideals that world leaders rhetorically committed to.  However, economic instability is a threat to world peace.  For Bunche, humanity should ensure that it is not:

    forced to take part in ruthless and harmful competition in order to survive, and they must be free from the constant threat of being obliterated in a future war. But it is more important still that men be able to shape their ideals free from the influence of petty and narrow-minded men who still in many countries exploit these ideals to further their own ends... But an indolent, complacent, and uninformed people can never feel secure or free.

    Bunche approached international diplomacy with the same spirit of dedication and commitment to excellence that he applied to scholarship and intellectual pursuits.  On May 20, 1948, collaboration began between Ralph Bunche and Folke Bernadotte, a man from an aristocratic background, since he was the grandson of King Oscar II of Sweden and nephew of Sweden's reigning monarch at the time, became the United Nations mediator in the conflict in Palestine. Bunche, whom as we know grew up “dirt poor”, worked closely with Bernadotte until September 17 when tragically, he was assassinated.  Bunche succeeded Bernadotte and until August 1949 was the UN mediator in Palestine.  This ceased the collaborative work between Bernadotte, who confessed to very superficial understanding of the Palestinian situation and only brief engagement with international crisis, with Bunche, who came into the job with considerable international experience, training and education.
    As Bunche said in his recommendations on requisite qualities of mediators: 

    They should be biased against war and for peace. They should have a bias which would lead them to believe in the essential goodness of their fellowman and that no problem of human relations is insoluble.  They should be biased against suspicion, intolerance, hate, religious and racial bigotry.

    The ending of the British mandate over Palestine on May 15, 1948, and the attempt to create a Jewish state led to the outbreak of war between the Arab states and Jews.  Despite formidable challenges, Bernadotte and Bunche succeeded in negotiating a month-long truce from June 11 to July 9, 1948.  War resumed on July 11 and by July 16 Bernadotte succeeded in persuading the Security Council to make history by declaring a cease-fire and an extension of the truce July 18, the first time this was ever done.  On September 17, Bernadotte's assassination was instantly followed by the Security Council decision to choose Bunche as his successor.  When the truce was broken in mid-October Bunche made many groundbreaking recommendations, the first occurring when he advised that the Security Council order a ceasefire during which the parties to the conflict would agree on a truce as a prelude a final resolution of the conflict.  On November 16, the Security Council granted its approval. 


    Bunche patiently but tenaciously engineered eleven months of complex, tortuous negotiations between the Arab States and Palestine on one side, and the Jews on the other.  Much of the negotiations were not face-to-face.  There was significant mutual distrust and distrust and the Arabs and Jews were determined not to sit together to negotiate anything.  Given that an armistice is taken in International relations to be a prelude to peace, Bunche succeeded in doing what was considered impossible. Bunche had to draft agreements signed by each and every one of the seven Arab States as well as the Jews (Bunche 1949).

    According to Bunche, his heritage and life experiences as well as professional training combined to develop in him an allergy to prejudice, incurable optimism, tolerance, “militancy in fighting for rights but not bitterness…coolness of temper, an attitude of objectivity when dealing with human sensitivities and irrationalities.” All these qualities stood him in good stead and ensured his success as UN mediator (Ross 1950).  This resonates with the Amistad Africans’ determination to be optimistic in the face of a system that sought to marginalize, oppress and brutalize them.  As with the Amistad case where slavery continued in spite of challenges against it, Ralph Bunche’s mediation did not end the injustices that he worked so hard to challenge. (Haberman 1972)[i] As Obama rightly said, war still remains a challenge that humanity must find ways to surmount.  Like Bunche and the Amistad Africans, Obama remains hopeful that there are solutions and they can be apprehended and implemented.

    Casting our minds back to the Amistad and all people of African descent who have had their contributions to world peace acknowledged—the Amistad Africans, Ralph Bunche, Albert Lutuli, Anwar Sadat, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Kofi Annan, and Wangari Maathai—Barack Obama has been motivated by hope, faith, and a belief that nothing is impossible.  The Amistad Africans believed in the possibility of freedom even though their situation seemed hopeless.  Bunche believed world peace and the end to inequality as well as man’s inhumanity to man was possible.  Lutuli was oppressed by Apartheid but he remained unbowed, uncompromised in his resistance and in the leadership of a movement to end Apartheid.  Sadat worked assiduously for an end to the Middle East crisis.  King advocated non-violence as a weapon against institutionalized racism in the United States, Mandela took the baton in the resistance against Apartheid.  He led a resistance movement that faced a hegemonic force, and spent the better part of his life in jail.  The triumph against this evil system did not come immediately.  But one of the first steps toward redressing the scourge came in his lifetime—a democratic South Africa, with a Human Rights driven constitution. Desmond Tutu also contributed the better part of his life to the struggle against Apartheid.  A man of the cloth, he decided to stand on the side of the oppressed and preach the gospel of liberation from the oppression of Apartheid, at great cost to himself and his family.  Kofi Annan, as Secretary General of the United Nations also contributed his quota to the service of humanity in the quest for peace. 

    Mama Maathai, the only woman of African descent thus far to be honored with the Peace Prize, was uncompromising and fierce in her opposition to domestic, and state injustice and oppression in Kenya.  She saw the need to respond to the challenge of environmental degradation and took it on, inspiring others to join the Greenbelt Movement.  She also fought against the human rights abuses and injustices perpetrated by the Kenyan State, demonstrating and being arrested, physically assaulted and jailed frequently. Unlike most women who succumb to the pressure of keeping spousal abuse under wraps, Mama Maathai publicly declared that she was a battered woman, and had the courage to divorce her abusive husband. 

    Obama’s Presidential election campaign mantra: “Yes we can!” expressed hope and the dream that even in the United States, a person of African descent could become President.  That he succeeded and has now taken on the mantle of leadership, and that the Nobel Peace laureates accomplished all they did is not to say that all the problems they confronted are solved, but that they contributed, each in a little way to the building block of making a better world.  These are not perfect people.  No human being is.  Obama drew our attention to the fact that he is not the most deserving of the prize.  I think we should broaden this to include all prize recipients.  There are always people out there that are more deserving, but many do not get noticed.  Sometimes it takes connections and belonging in the right networks to be selected for awards.  Sometimes the award of prizes is indicative of high level political decision making, sometimes even, undeserving people win awards.  Sometimes, awards are aspirational.  However, we would be remiss if we did not acknowledge the contributions of these people of African descent to world peace.  Peace is still an intractable process.  The waging of war still continues to be connected to the expectation that peace would be generated thereby, especially by powerful countries. Barack Obama is not the first person to declare this.  He would not be the last.  Does the world want peace?  Does the Nobel Peace Prize contribute to the achievement of this seemingly ephemeral condition?  I cannot engage these questions in this paper.  I leave the questions to posterity and to others who should consider these fundamental questions.


    Obama’s just war principle as articulated in his Nobel speech should be considered in light of the Amistad Africans’ struggle, Ralph Bunche’s negotiations in the interest of world peace Wangari Maathai’s GBM, and US foreign policy.  To the extent that the just war is defined as a war to rid the world of injustice, a war to redress wrongs inflicted by an aggressor on the weak and powerless, a war to challenge the oppression of the powerful vis a vis the weak and defenseless, it might be acceptable to use violence in the cause of liberation.  This is the Amistad story.  Sengbe Pieh and his fellow captives struck out for their freedom but had to kill the captain and most of the crew of the slave ship in order to gain their freedom. The GBM is a peaceful but determined effort to interject the voices of the weak and marginalized into the discourse of politics and power in Kenya through the planting of trees, in the first place, for reasons of ecological, economic and environmental balance and integrity; and later to make a statement about the need for peace in Kenyan politics, and finally to express hope in a better future. 


    Obama’s just war principle then appears to be a mere justification of the use of violence by the world’s most powerful state to beat its perceived enemies into submission.  In the process, states like Iraq and Afghanistan are conflated with their people.  Organizations like Al Qaeda are attacked and innocent non-combatants who lose their lives are considered “collateral damage”; the use of unmanned drones in a high tech war that more resembles a video game and inflicts sporadic but devastating casualties on noncombatants cannot be ignored as merely bringing the war to enemies of peace.  At the very least, this would keep the spiral of violence going because those who lose family members may not accept the rationale that this is in the interest of world peace.  Thoughtful analysis also raises questions about the extent to which the US operates from purely altruistic and defensive motives.


    How can peace be achieved in this turbulent world?  Neither Obama’s just war principle nor the Nobel Peace Prize can guarantee world peace.  Neither would persuade skeptics that there is genuine interest in fostering a peace where swords are beaten into ploughshares and humanity would commit itself to warring no more.  Until then, human beings would continue to find justifications for the use of violence. Perceived aggressors would be attacked by those who label them as such.  The lesson from the Amistad is that posterity sometimes vindicates those who struggle for their freedom. 


    Ralph Bunche as a diplomat for the UN participated in a multilateral effort to broker peace in the Middle East.  That conflict remains today, taking on new forms and manifestations, but Ralph Bunche’s contributions cannot be denied.  Wangari Maathai was persona non grata in Kenya for much of the period that she led in the founding of the GBM, and while she assiduously struggled for democratization in Kenya.  That struggle also continues, as does the struggle to respect and nurture the environment in stewardship for future generations.  Barack Obama has an uphill task to convince the world that he as leader of the US is committed to world peace.  Would US national interest as a hegemonic power allow him to make such a mark?  It remains to be seen if this is possible. 


    In realist terms, where states are portrayed as rational maximizers that constantly plot and plan to survive and dominate, the interest of a powerful nation differs radically from that of weak nations (Morgenthau 1948), and the structuralist realists (Waltz 1979) tell us that the system dynamics drive much of the action that we observe.  Thus, the US is acting on the world stage as it should.  Weak countries cannot do otherwise than take the abuse they do on the world stage because they do not have power (military and/or economic) within the system. (Mearsheimer 2001).  However, Obama the candidate’s message of hope also included the notion that another world is possible.  We see flashes of this still in his Nobel Acceptance Speech.  We must all believe that we can strive for a better world.  We must all dare to contribute to its actualization.  Within the limits of their capabilities, the Amistad Africans and Nobelists Peace laureates of African descent have attempted to grapple with these challenges.  As for Obama, we have to watch and see if the aspirations that he espouses are met in his actions as the leader of the world’s most powerful country in this first decade of the 21st century.  This is the standard that he asks us to apply and we should do so without fear or favor.


    Thank you.




    Archives.gov. Amistad. http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/amistad/ (accessed December 5, 2009).

    —. Amistad Supreme Court Opinion. http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/amistad/supreme-court-opinion.html (accessed December 5, 2009).

    Barber, John W. Sketches of the Amistad Captives. 1840. http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/amistad/AMI_SLAV.HTM (accessed December 5, 2009).

    Bunche, Ralph. "Colgate Lectures in Human Relations." Lecture, 1949.

    Haberman, Frederick W., Editor. Nobel Lectures, Peace 1926-1950, . Amsterdam: Elsevier Publishing Company, 1972.

    Jagland, Thorbjørn. Thorbjørn Jagland delivering his presentation speech . 12 20, 2009. http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/2009/presentation-speech.html (accessed 2 20, 2010).

    Maathai, Wangari. Peace Laureates Maathai Lecture. December 10, 2004. http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/2004/maathai-lecture-text.html (accessed January 10 , 2010).

    "Nobel Laureate - Wangari Maathai May Lose In Elections ." AfricaNews.com. October 13, 2007 . http://www.africanews.com/site/NOBEL_LAUREATE_WANGARI_MAATHAI_MAY_LOSE_IN_ELECTIONS/list_messages/12196 (accessed January 10, 2010).

    Nobel Peace Prize. Nobel Peace Laureates. 12 10, 2009. http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/2009/press.html 2/20/2010 4:05:00 PM (accessed 2 20, 2010).

    Obama, Barack. Nobel Lecture. December 10, 2009. http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/2009/obama-lecture_en.html (accessed November 1, 2009).

    Ross, Irwin. "What America Means to Me (as told to Irwin Ross)." The American Magazine, February 1950: 19; 122-126.

    "The Nobel Peace Prize 2004 Wangari Muta Maathai." December 2004. http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/2004/index.html (accessed December 1, 2009).

    Tore Frängsmyr, Editor. "From Les Prix Nobel. The Nobel Prizes 2004 , [Nobel Foundation], Stockholm, ." Nobel Peace Prize 2004. 2005 . http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/2004/index.html (accessed 10 2010, January ).




    ·                     2009 - Barack H. Obama *

    ·                     2008 - Martti Ahtisaari

    ·                     2007 - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Al Gore

    ·                     2006 - Muhammad Yunus, Grameen Bank

    ·                     2005 - International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei

    ·                     2004 - Wangari Maathai *

    ·                     2003 - Shirin Ebadi

    ·                     2002 - Jimmy Carter

    ·                     2001 - United Nations, Kofi Annan *

    ·                     2000 - Kim Dae-jung

    ·                     1999 - Médecins Sans Frontières

    ·                     1998 - John Hume, David Trimble

    ·                     1997 - International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Jody Williams

    ·                     1996 - Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo, José Ramos-Horta

    ·                     1995 - Joseph Rotblat, Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs

    ·                     1994 - Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin

    ·                     1993 - Nelson Mandela, F.W. de Klerk

    ·                     1992 - Rigoberta Menchú Tum

    ·                     1991 - Aung San Suu Kyi

    ·                     1990 - Mikhail Gorbachev

    ·                     1989 - The 14th Dalai Lama

    ·                     1988 - United Nations Peacekeeping Forces

    ·                     1987 - Oscar Arias Sánchez

    ·                     1986 - Elie Wiesel

    ·                     1985 - International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War

    ·                     1984 - Desmond Tutu *

    ·                     1983 - Lech Walesa

    ·                     1982 - Alva Myrdal, Alfonso García Robles

    ·                     1981 - Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

    ·                     1980 - Adolfo Pérez Esquivel

    ·                     1979 - Mother Teresa

    ·                     1978 - Anwar al-Sadat*, Menachem Begin

    ·                     1977 - Amnesty International

    ·                     1976 - Betty Williams, Mairead Corrigan

    ·                     1975 - Andrei Sakharov

    ·                     1974 - Seán MacBride, Eisaku Sato

    ·                     1973 - Henry Kissinger, Le Duc Tho

    ·                     1972 - The prize money for 1972 was allocated to the Main Fund

    ·                     1971 - Willy Brandt

    ·                     1970 - Norman Borlaug

    ·                     1969 - International Labour Organization

    ·                     1968 - René Cassin

    ·                     1967 - The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section

    ·                     1966 - The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section

    ·                     1965 - United Nations Children's Fund

    ·                     1964 - Martin Luther King Jr. *

    ·                     1963 - International Committee of the Red Cross, League of Red Cross Societies

    ·                     1962 - Linus Pauling

    ·                     1961 - Dag Hammarskjöld

    ·                     1960 - Albert Lutuli*

    ·                     1959 - Philip Noel-Baker

    ·                     1958 - Georges Pire

    ·                     1957 - Lester Bowles Pearson

    ·                     1956 - The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section

    ·                     1955 - The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section

    ·                     1954 - Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

    ·                     1953 - George C. Marshall

    ·                     1952 - Albert Schweitzer

    ·                     1951 - Léon Jouhaux

    ·                     1950 - Ralph Bunche *

    ·                     1949 - Lord Boyd Orr

    ·                     1948 - The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section

    ·                     1947 - Friends Service Council, American Friends Service Committee

    ·                     1946 - Emily Greene Balch, John R. Mott

    ·                     1945 - Cordell Hull

    ·                     1944 - International Committee of the Red Cross

    ·                     1943 - The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section

    ·                     1942 - The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section

    ·                     1941 - The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section

    ·                     1940 - The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section

    ·                     1939 - The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section

    ·                     1938 - Nansen International Office for Refugees

    ·                     1937 - Robert Cecil

    ·                     1936 - Carlos Saavedra Lamas

    ·                     1935 - Carl von Ossietzky

    ·                     1934 - Arthur Henderson

    ·                     1933 - Sir Norman Angell

    ·                     1932 - The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section

    ·                     1931 - Jane Addams, Nicholas Murray Butler

    ·                     1930 - Nathan Söderblom

    ·                     1929 - Frank B. Kellogg

    ·                     1928 - The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section

    ·                     1927 - Ferdinand Buisson, Ludwig Quidde

    ·                     1926 - Aristide Briand, Gustav Stresemann

    ·                     1925 - Sir Austen Chamberlain, Charles G. Dawes

    ·                     1924 - The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section

    ·                     1923 - The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section

    ·                     1922 - Fridtjof Nansen

    ·                     1921 - Hjalmar Branting, Christian Lange

    ·                     1920 - Léon Bourgeois

    ·                     1919 - Woodrow Wilson

    ·                     1918 - The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section

    ·                     1917 - International Committee of the Red Cross

    ·                     1916 - The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section

    ·                     1915 - The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section

    ·                     1914 - The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section

    ·                     1913 - Henri La Fontaine

    ·                     1912 - Elihu Root

    ·                     1911 - Tobias Asser, Alfred Fried

    ·                     1910 - Permanent International Peace Bureau

    ·                     1909 - Auguste Beernaert, Paul Henri d'Estournelles de Constant

    ·                     1908 - Klas Pontus Arnoldson, Fredrik Bajer

    ·                     1907 - Ernesto Teodoro Moneta, Louis Renault

    ·                     1906 - Theodore Roosevelt

    ·                     1905 - Bertha von Suttner

    ·                     1904 - Institute of International Law

    ·                     1903 - Randal Cremer

    ·                     1902 - Élie Ducommun, Albert Gobat

    ·                     1901 - Henry Dunant, Frédéric Passy



    [i] All material for Bunche biography drawn from Ralph Bunche Bio page:' http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1950/index.html Accessed January 10, 2010.

    http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1950/press.html  Accessed January 10, 2010.  Also see The presentation speech at:  http://nobelprize.org/mediaplayer/index.php?id=703 Accessed January 10, 2010

    Return to Table of Contents