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Europe

UN To Accept Nobel Peace Prize

The Nobel Peace Prize for 2001 goes to the United Nations and its Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Monday for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world.

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UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and South Korean Foreign Minister Han Seung-Soo add their names to the list of Nobel Peace Prize winners.

Of course, every Nobel Peace Prize is a distinguished award. But this year's is extra-special, for the 100th Peace Prize will be awarded at today's glittering ceremony in Oslo's City Hall.

100 years after the first award went to Henri Dunant, the Swiss founder of the Red Cross, and French peace campaigner Frederic Passy, the 2001 centenary prize goes in equal portions to the United Nations and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

The five-member Norwegian Nobel Committee has given more than a dozen prizes to UN agencies and officials since the body was founded after World War Two. But this is the first Peace Prize to the UN as such. The committee said it wished in its centenary year to proclaim that "the only negotiable route to global peace and cooperation goes by way of the United Nations", it said.

"The end of the cold war has at last made it possible for the UN to perform more fully the part it was originally intended to play," the committee said. "Today the organization is at the forefront of efforts to achieve peace and security in the world, and of the international mobilization aimed at meeting the world's economic, social and environmental challenges."

South Korean Foreign Minister Han Seung-soo, the president of the UN General Assembly, will accept the award on behalf of the body.

A life of devotion to the UN

According to the Nobel Committee, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has been "pre-eminent in bringing new life" to the organization. "While clearly underlining the UN's traditional responsibility for peace and security, he has also emphasized its obligations with regard to human rights", it said.

The committee also acknowledges Annan's focus on controversial issues such as HIV/AIDS and international terrorism. "In an organization that can hardly become more than its members permit, he has made clear that sovereignty cannot be a shield behind which member states conceal their violations."

The 63-year old Kofi Annan, a native of Ghana, was elected as Secretary-General in 1997. He was reelected in June for a second five-year term in this position.

Declaration to end wars

Many former laureates are in Oslo for the 100th anniversary. In a meeting over the weekend, the group of Nobel Peace Prize laureates issued a joint appeal for non-violent pursuit of peace and justice in the 21st century.

They said disarmament and the establishment of an international criminal court were crucial parts of the solution. The laureates include Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and South African anti-apartheid campaigner Desmond Tutu.

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