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Barack Obama Nobel Peace Prize win 'did not have desired effect'

Published 17/09/2015

Barack Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. (AP)
Barack Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. (AP)

The decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to US President Barack Obama in 2009 failed to live up to the panel's expectations, according to the former secretary of its committee.

Geir Lundestad writes in his memoir that the committee had expected the prize to deliver a boost to Mr Obama but was instead met with fierce criticism in the US, where many argued the president had not been in his position long enough to have an impact worthy of the award.

"Even many of Obama's supporters believed that the prize was a mistake," Mr Lundestad wrote. "In that sense the committee didn't achieve what it had hoped for."

Mr Lundestad, who stepped down last year after 25 years as the non-voting secretary of the secretive committee, noted that Mr Obama was startled by the award and that his staff even investigated whether other winners had skipped the prize ceremony in Oslo.

"In the White House they quickly realised that they needed to travel to Oslo," Mr Lundestad wrote.

Speaking to the Associated Press, Mr Lundestad said he did not disagree with the decision to award the president but the committee "thought it would strengthen Obama and it didn't have this effect."

It is rare for Nobel officials to discuss the proceedings of the secretive committee or publicly criticise each other. But Mr Lundestad has also fired a parting shot at Thorbjorn Jagland who was the committee chairman for six years and is now a regular member.

He said that as a former Norwegian prime minister and sitting head of the Council of Europe human rights organisation, Mr Jagland should never have been appointed to the committee.

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