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Wednesday, 5 December, 2001, 22:13 GMT
Century of peace prize
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan
Kofi Annan and the UN are this year's winners
By BBC News Online's Charlotte Parsons

Dozens of Nobel laureates have converged on Oslo's Holmenkollen Park Hotel to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Tibet's Dalai Lama, South African Bishop Desmond Tutu and Northern Irish First Minister David Trimble are among the 36 laureates expected to attend the Nobel Peace Prize Centennial Symposium.
Nobel Prizes

The first such prize was presented in 1901. It was divided equally between Jean Henry Dunant, the Swiss founder of the Red Cross, and Frederic Passy, founder and president of the first French peace society.

Since then, it has been presented to political figures, religious leaders, activists and aid organisations from around the world.

Prominent winners

In 1906 US President Theodore Roosevelt was recognised for drawing up the 1905 peace treaty between Russia and Japan. Another American president, Thomas Woodrow Wilson, was later honoured for founding the League of Nations.

Other world leaders on the Nobel's honour roll are former Japanese Prime Minister Eisaku Sato (1973), Egyptian President Mohammad Anwar Al-Sadat (joint winner 1978), Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin (1978), Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev (1990) and Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi (1991).

In 1993, South African President Frederik Willem de Klerk shared the award with ANC leader Nelson Mandela. A year later, the prize was split three ways between Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Bishop Desmond Tutu
Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu will attend the celebrations
In 1998 Northern Ireland's David Trimble and John Hume were rewarded for their efforts to bring peace to the region. And Korean leader Kim Dae Jung won in 2000 after seeking reconciliation with the north.

But not everyone wants to win. In 1974 Le Douc Tho of North Vietnam declined the Nobel prize, which he was offered jointly with US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. The two were selected in recognition of their work negotiating the Vietnam peace accord the year before.

Prominent religious figures have also won.

India's Mother Teresa was honoured in 1979, and South African Bishop Desmond Tutu received the prize in 1984. Five years later, Tibet's religious leader the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso took home the award.

This year's peace prize will be divided between The United Nations and its Secretary-General, Kofi Annan.

The award recognises "their work for a better organised and more peaceful world".

Mr Annan is not the first UN Secretary-General to win.

Sweden's Dag Hjalmar Agne Carl Hammarskjold was honoured posthumously in 1961.

Alfred Nobel

The Nobel prizes are the legacy of Alfred Nobel, who was born in Stockholm in 1833.

His father was an engineer who, in the course of his building work, experimented with various techniques for blasting rocks.

Arthur Nobel followed in his father's footsteps. In 1866, he invented dynamite, drastically reducing the cost of blasting rock, drilling tunnels, building canals and other forms of construction work.

This was just one of his many ideas. By the end of his life, Nobel held more than 350 patents, and had built up companies and laboratories in more than 20 countries.
Dalai Lama
Tibet's Dalai Lama won the peace prize in 1989

But Nobel was more than just a scientist and inventor. He was also interested in social and peace-related issues. He wrote plays and poetry, and was a great fan of literature.

Arthur Nobel's talents made him a rich man, and he decided to leave his fortune to those who shared his passions.

The will he wrote in 1895 served as the blueprint for the Nobel prize system. Arthur Nobel ordered that his money be used to reward outstanding contributions to peace, literature, physics, chemistry, economics and medicine.

He died of a cerebral haemorrhage in his home in San Remo, Italy on December 10, 1896.

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