Peter Wallensteen on the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize

Author: Peter Wallensteen

The 2020 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the United Nations World Food Programme for its efforts to provide food assistance and eliminate hunger worldwide, especially in the midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Describing the rationale for this year's selection, the Nobel Committee wrote that the organization was selected, "...for its efforts to combat hunger, for its contribution to bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and for acting as a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict." 

Peter Wallensteen, the Richard G. Starmann Sr. Research Professor Emeritus of Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and Senior Professor in the Department of Peace and Conflict Research at Sweden’s Uppsala University. He offers comments on this year's award below: 

This is a strong statement from the Nobel Committee in favor of international cooperation and multilateralism. As the Nobel Committee Chairperson Ms. Berit Reiss-Andersen emphasized at the announcement: hunger is a global problem and can only be solved through global efforts.

The committee also underlined that the ongoing conflicts in the world give rise to hunger around the world and there is a fear that food deliveries can be used as a political weapon. Systematic research and case studies on conflicts show that control of food can be used to favor supporters and punish opponents. The World Food Programme, created in the 1960s, is there to deliver food to those in need, and thus has a strong humanitarian, non-partisan approach.

As the WFP is part of the UN system, the prize is also a way to honor the United Nations as it turns 75 later this month. Furthermore, it is a reminder that abolishing hunger is one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals to be achieved by 2030.

One can hope that countries around the world now will come forward to support the organization and help attain this goal.

Media contact: Peter Wallensteen,
                          Colleen Sharkey, Assistant Director of Media Relations,