Nobel Peace Prize Award for 1947 to 1950

About the Nobel Peace Prize Award from 1947 to 1950 including winners Bunche and Orr, their works, and history.


1947 British Friends Service Council

American Friends Service Committee

Work: Pacifism and relief work

Nobel Laureates: These organizations were the twin service committees of the Society of Friends (Quakers), founded in the 18th century in England by George Fox. Members refuse to bear arms. Both organizations worked tirelessly during the world wars to help POWs and civilian war victims. Often called traitors during W.W.I for their refusal to defend their countries, the groups provided alternative service for conscientious objectors. Helping POWs and political prisoners around the globe, the U.S. committee also aided Japanese-Americans during their incarceration in inland concentration camps. They provided similar services later in Korea, Hungary, and Vietnam.

Nobel Lore: American Friends Chairman Henry J. Cadbury arrived in Oslo to accept his half of the award in typical Quaker simplicity. He refused his plush hotel accommodations for less opulent quarters and sat down to the elegant Nobel dinner in a secondhand suit pulled from a rack bound for refugees overseas.

1948 No award

1949 John Boyd Orr (1880--1971), British

Work: Founded and directed Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.

1950 Ralph J. Bunche (1904--1971), American

Work: Negotiated armistice in 1949 Arab-Israeli dispute over Palestine

Nobel Laureate: Born in Detroit in abject poverty, Bunche, the grandson of a slave, climbed out of the ghetto with degrees from the University of California and Harvard. During W.W. II he entered the Office of Strategic Services and by 1946 had become the colonial affairs expert at the State Dept. Shortly thereafter he joined the U.N. In 1948 he was assigned to assist Count Folke Bernadotte of Sweden in mediating the Arab-Israeli war over Palestine. Upon Bernadotte's assassination by Jewish terrorists, Bunche pressed on alone to conclude an armistice between the seven Arab states and Israel, despite the belligerents' refusal to face each other over a bargaining table. Bunche's diplomatic talents were tapped throughout the next two decades--in the Suez, Katanga, Kashmir, and Cyprus--all to good effect. In 1965 he joined Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., in a voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala. He was elevated to the number-two spot in the U.N. in 1967, serving as undersecretary general until his retirement in 1971.

Nobel Lore: Bunche, the first black to win any Nobel Prize, edged out a crowded field of 28 contenders to pick up the $31,674 Nobel check.

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