The United Nations’ World Food Program was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday in recognition of its efforts to fight hunger across the globe.
The Norwegian Nobel Institute paid tribute to the organization “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.”
The 101st Nobel Peace Prize to be awarded since 1901 was announced in Oslo, Norway, at a much more scaled-down event than in years past because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Only a handful of journalists and photographers were permitted inside the Nobel Institute because of public health rules.
The customary Dec. 10 ceremony where the award is handed out, on the anniversary of the death of prize founder Alfred Nobel, has also been replaced with a more austere event — without the usual banquet and concert — to be held at the University of Oslo.
The 318 candidates nominated for the peace prize this year included 211 individuals and 107 organizations, the fourth-largest pool in the award’s history.
The Nobel Institute doesn’t disclose the names of nominees, but others believed to be in the running included Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny, Hong Kong pro-democracy leaders and Sudanese student activist Alaa Salah, who helped lead a popular uprising that toppled the African nation’s authoritarian leader.
Nominations for this year’s prize had to be submitted before Feb. 1. The WHO’s declaration of the COVID-19 outbreak to be a pandemic, which catapulted the Geneva-based organization into the global spotlight, did not occur until several weeks later, which made its chances of nabbing this year’s Peace Prize seem less likely.
This year’s Nobel Prizes include a cash award of 10 million Swedish krona, or about $1.1 million.
The prize for economics will be announced Monday.
Times staff writer David Pierson contributed to this report.