This morning, the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced a surprise decision to honor President Barack Obama for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples,” by awarding him the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.
“Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future,” Thorbjoern Jagland, chairman of the Nobel Committee said.
Among the reasons specifically cited by Thorbjorn Jagland, chairman of the Nobel committee, were Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons, his emphasis on multilateral diplomacy to foster a new climate in international politics and agreement with his position that “now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges.”
In his inaugural address, the President stated that
Each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet … Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met … Our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.
In just under two months, delegates and leaders from around the world will gather in Copenhagen and attempt to finalize a new international climate treaty that is the follow-up to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. A preliminary meeting that adjourned earlier today in Bangkok ended without progress on central issues. However, failure in Copenhagen is not an option.
The clock is ticking, the world is watching. Obama’s leadership at home – in urging the Senate to pass a comprehensive climate bill – and leadership abroad – in participating as an honest negotiator in December’s climate talks – is urgently needed and, with this new accolade, expected.
After President Obama goes to Oslo, Norway on December 10 to accept his Nobel Peace Prize, I sincerely hope he will swing by Copenhagen on the way home.