OSLO, Norway -- Amnesty International, the worldwide organization that fights man's inhumanity to man, Monday won the 1977 Nobel Peace Prize and the delayed 1976 prize was given to Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan, leaders of the Northern Ireland Peace Movement.
In its citation, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said, "Amnesty International has given practical humanitarian and impartial support to people who have been imprisoned because of their race, religion or political views."
The two Belfast women were cited for the peace movement they formed in an effort to end the sectarian violence in Northern Ireland.
"Alfred Nobel's wish was that the peace prize should be given to those who most actively worked for peace and brotherhood," the committee said. "Mairead Corrigan and Betty Williams acted from a deep conviction that the individual person can make a meaningful contribution for peace through constructive conciliation work."
The 1977 prize was worth $145,000 and the 1976 prize $142,000.
The committee withheld the prize in 1976 but stated at the time it could be awarded in 1977. The Belfast women did not form their group until August 1976 -- six months after nominations for 1976 were closed.
The peace prize, provided for in the will of Alfred Nobel, the wealthy Swedish chemical engineer and in venter of dynamite, has received strong criticism in the last few years for awards to controversial politicians.
This year it was given to two organizations without discernible ideological or political ties.
"The 1976 and 1977 winners are grassroot movements which should be backed by most people," said Tim Greve, head of the Norwegian Nobel Institute.
In Belfast, Miss Clorrigan broke down and wept when told of the award.
"It's just overwhelming," she said through sobs. "This is a tremendous encouragement for us in our work. I accept the award on behalf of those people of the world, particularly in Northern Ireland, who have worked and are working so desperately for peace."
Thomas Hammarberg, the chairman of Amnesty International's executive committee, said in Stockholm, "Our work is important because there are political prisoners in 60 to 70 countries. In more than 40 countries people are tortured and in more than 120 countries there i^ still the death penalty."
The peace prize was the second Nobel Prize awarded this year. The prize for literature was given to Spanish poet Vicente Aleixandre Thursday. The physics and chemistry prizes will be awarded in Stockholm Tuesday and the economics prize Friday.
Amnesty International, formed in 1961 by British lawyer Peter Berenson, has national committees in 34 countries, 180,000 members in 107 countries and is the world's largest international human rights organization.
In a statement issued in London, Amnesty International noted that its prize would be presented Dec. 10 -- International Human Rights Day.
The Northern Ireland Women's Peace Movement was founded in Belfast after a gunman's getaway car went out of control and crushed to death three young children, Miss Corrigan's nieces and nephews.
Mrs. Williams, 34, is married to a navy engineer and they have two children. Miss Corrigan, 33, lives with her parents in Belfast.