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Telling hope through the Nobel Peace prize

October 11th, 2023

It was in the auditorium of the University of Oslo on December 12, 1922, when Fridtjof Nansen was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, that he delivered a dark speech, marked not only by the monstrosity of the Great War, but also, from even further back, by the power struggles, imperialism and militarism that run through centuries of human misery. At the beginning of his text, he denounces the fact that diplomats, however well-intentioned, have always been "a sterile race that has done more harm than good to mankind over the years"!

The essential role played by Fridtjof Nansen in the repatriation of prisoners of war, in international aid and his commitment as League of Nations High Commissioner for Refugees earned him the recognition of the Nobel Committee. The rest of his speech, published on geneveMonde.ch, should be read from this humanist perspective. Fridtjof Nansen saw in the League of Nations in Geneva an ideal of justice, a desire for peace and, even more, an active participation, through the very existence of the League, in "the creation of sympathy in the souls of men", without which no peace is possible.

Fridtjof Nansen's words still resonate today. How can we not look to him, the creator of the passport for stateless people, for a solution to the inextricable situation of today's exiles? How can we fail to dream, in these times of war when civilians are and always will be the first victims, of that "sympathy in the souls of men" capable of wresting power from despots of all kinds?

The awarding of the Nobel Prizes in October 2023 - and in particular the Nobel Peace Prize to the Iranian opponent Narges Mohammadi - motivated us to publish Fridtjof Nansen's speech. All the more so as this text supports the gallery dedicated to him, in which a video shot at the United Nations Archives

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