In 1888, at the age of 55 a Swedish man got to glimpse the way the world would remember him. And he did not like it. Imagine the face of the pacifist as he read his own obituary describe him as the “merchant of death”. The newspaper had made a mistake, the man would not die for another 8 years, they had confused him with his brother Ludvig Nobel.
Alfred Nobel died owning 90 factories, and with over 350 international patents to his name., amongst them patents for dynamite and other explosives. The factories he owned made munitions, it was no surprise he was given the epitaph the man who made it possible to kill more people more quickly than ever before. But from reading it, Alfred decided this was not how he wanted to be remembered.
Alfred Nobel’s last will established the five prizes for which he is now more famously remembered in chemistry, physical sciences, physiology or medical sciences, literature and peace. The Peace Prize was to be given to an individual or institute 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 Peace Prize has always been a controversial prize and the latest award to the European Union has definitely raised a few eyebrows. However, the award for the EU celebrates the effort of the past 60 years which have in the words of Guy Verhofstadt (Leader of the Liberal group in the European Parliament) “turned a previously war ridden continent into a peace project”.
In recent times we have seen a return or nationalism and Eurosceptic attitudes. But with wars still storming around the world it is more important than ever that we work together, to create a coherent unified foreign policy to build a future we can continue to celebrate.