OSLO, Norway, Oct. 9 (UPI) -- U.S. President Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize for "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy," the Nobel Committee in Oslo announced.
In the surprise announcement Friday from Oslo, the committee said it selected Obama for his "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."
"The committee has attached special importance to Obama's vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons," a statement posted on the Nobel Foundation Web site said.
As president, Obama "created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play."
Because of Obama's initiatives, the United States is playing a "more constructive role" in meeting climate change challenges, the committee said. His vision of a nuclear weapons-free world has "powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations as well, the committee said
"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," the committee said of the man who was inaugurated Jan. 20. "His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population."
Three U.S. presidents and one vice president have been named peace prize laureates. In 2007, former Vice President Al Gore earned the Peace Prize for his work on climate change after he left office. Jimmy Carter earned the 2002 Peace Prize, also after he left office, for his work in advancing peace and democracy. In 1919, Woodrow Wilson earned the Peace Prize for his work to form the League of Nations. Teddy Roosevelt was the prize laureate in 1906 for negotiating an end to the war between Russia and Japan.