The Nobel Peace Prize has been called "the world's most prestigious prize". With the award to Martti Ahtisaari in 2008, a total of 96 individuals and 23 organizations have been awarded the Peace Prize since the beginning in 1901. The Prize is awarded at a ceremony in the Oslo City Hall on December 10, the date on which Alfred Nobel died.
Alfred Nobel's will stated that the Nobel Peace Prize should be awarded by a committee of five persons elected by the Norwegian Parliament. Thorbjorn Jagland became member of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, 1st of January 2009, and was elected Charirman of the Committee in its first meeting 26 of February 2009. The other members of the Committee are Mrs Kace Kullmann Five, Mrs Inger Marie Ytterhorn, Mrs Sissel Ronbeck and Mrs Ågot Valle.
According to Nobel's will, the Peace Prize should be awarded "to the person who 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.
The Nobel Committee's concept of peace, and its interpretation of the terms of Alfred Nobel's will, have changed in the course of time. The over one-hundred-year history of the Peace Prize shows that in the opinion of the Norwegian Nobel Committee there are many different paths to peace.
In the earliest years of the Peace Prize - up to World War I - the prize was often awarded to pioneers of the organized peace movement. Many of the laureates were parliamentarians who had committed themselves to working to resolve conflicts on the basis of international law and arbitration. In the inter-war years, the focus shifted to active politicians who sought to promote peace and détente by means of diplomacy and international agreements, but prizes were also awarded for humanitarian work (Nansen, the League of Nations High Commissioner for Refugees).
Since World War II, the Peace Prize has principally been awarded to honour efforts in four main areas: arms control and disarmament, peace negotiation, democracy and human rights, and work aimed at creating a better organized and more peaceful world.
In its awards to Wangari Maathai in 2004 and to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Al Gore in 2007, the Nobel Committee has indicated that its concept of peace now also embraces efforts to limit the harm done by man-made climate change and threats to the environment.