President Theodore Roosevelt—the 26th President of the United States—received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1905 for helping negotiate an end to the Russo-Japanese War. However, he played a role in the suppression of a revolt in the Philippines.
Cordell Hull was awarded the Nobel Prize in Peace in 1945 in recognition of his efforts for peace and understanding in the Western Hemisphere, his trade agreements, and his work to establish the United Nations. Hull was Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Secretary of State during the SS St. Louis Crisis. The St. Louis sailed out of Hamburg into the Atlantic Ocean in the summer of 1939 carrying over 950 Jewish refugees, mostly wealthy, seeking asylum from Nazi persecution just before World War II. The ship’s voyage caused great controversy in the United States: Initially President of the United States Franklin Delano Roosevelt showed modest willingness to take in some of those on board, but vehement opposition by Hull and from Southern Democrats—some of whom went so far as to threaten to withhold their support of Roosevelt in the 1940 Presidential election if this occurred. On 4 June 1939 Roosevelt issued an order to deny entry to the ship, which was waiting in the Caribbean Sea between Florida and Cuba. The passengers began negotiations with the Cuban government, but those broke down at the last minute. Forced to return to Europe, over a quarter of its passengers subsequently died in the Holocaust.
The United States Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973 for his work on the Vietnam Peace Accords, despite having instituted the secret 1969–1975 campaign of bombing against infiltraiting NVA in Cambodia, the alleged U.S. involvement in Operation Condor—a mid-1970s campaign of kidnapping and murder coordinated among the intelligence and security services of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay—as well as the death of French nationals under the Chilean junta. He also supported the Turkish intervention in Cyprus resulting in the de facto partition of the island.
Anwar Sadat, president of Egypt during a war against Israel in 1973, the Yom Kippur War, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, along with Menachem Begin, in 1978 for their contributions to the successful closure to the Camp David Accords in the same year.
Rigoberta Menchú won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992, in part for her autobiography I, Rigoberta Menchu. In 1999 she was accused by David Stoll of having fabricated events in her family history in the book to further the guerilla cause. See Rigoberta Menchú for details.
Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres, and Yitzhak Rabin were winners of the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize. Arafat was regarded by critics as a terrorist leader for many years. His critics often described him as an unrepentant terrorist with a long legacy of promoting violence. Kåre Kristiansen, a Norwegian member of the Nobel Committee, resigned in 1994 in protest at the awarding of a Nobel Peace Prize to Yasser Arafat, whom he labelled a “terrorist”. Supporters of Arafat have pointed out that Nelson Mandela similarly had never formally renounced terrorism despite being a founder member of Umkhonto we Sizwe, but his nobel prize did not receive similar criticism. On the other side, critics of Israel such as Edward Said have been equally critical of Peres and Rabin and the entire Oslo accords.
Jimmy Carter was awarded the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, for the “decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development.” The announcement of the award came shortly after the U.S. House and Senate gave President George W. Bush authorization to use military force against Iraq in order to enforce U.N. Security Council resolutions requiring that Baghdad give up weapons of mass destruction. Asked if the selection of the former president was a criticism of Bush, Gunnar Berge, head of the Nobel committee, said: “With the position Carter has taken on this, it can and must also be seen as criticism of the line the current U.S. administration has taken on Iraq.” Carter declined to comment on the remark in interviews, saying that he preferred to focus on the work of the Carter Center.
Wangari Maathai, 2004 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, was reported by the Kenyan newspaper Standard and Radio Free Europe to have stated that AIDS was originally developed by Western scientists in order to depopulate. She later denied these claims, though the Standard stands by its reporting. Additionally, in a Time magazine interview, she hinted at its non-natural origin, saying that someone knows where it came from and that it “…did not come from monkeys.”
Al Gore and the IPCC, 2007 winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, have had the validity of their winning of the prize disputed as well.
The award of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize to United States president Barack Obama drew criticism that the award was undeserved or premature due to his few accomplishments so early into his political career outside of Chicago.