The 2020 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).
The agency was given the prize for its efforts to combat hunger and improve conditions for peace.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee said the WFP was declared winner of the prestigious award “for its efforts to combat hunger, for its contribution to bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and for acting as a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict”.
Chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen said that with this year’s award the committee wanted to “turn the eyes of the world to the millions of people who suffer from or face the threat of hunger”.
“The World Food Programme plays a key role in multilateral co-operation in making food security an instrument of peace,” she told a news conference in Oslo.
The committee said Covid-19 had further boosted the importance of the group.
“The coronavirus pandemic has contributed to a strong upsurge in the number of victims of hunger in the world,” it wrote in a statement.
“In the face of the pandemic, the World Food Programme has demonstrated an impressive ability to intensify its efforts.”
Some 107 organisations and 211 individuals were nominated for the award this year.
The WFP, the 101st winner of a prize now worth 10m Swedish krona ($1.1 million), said it was “deeply humbled” to have won.
WFP head David Beasley told the BBC’s Newshour he was in shock following the announcement.
“I was literally for the first time in my life without words,” he said.
“To receive this award is a recognition to the men and women at the World Food Programme who put their lives on the line every day for the struggling, suffering people around the world. So I hope this is a signal and a message that the World Food Programme is a role model and that we all have got to do more.”
The Nobel Prize is one of the world’s most important awards.
It was started in accordance with the will of Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel, with the first awards handed out in 1901.
Nobel Prizes are awarded in several categories to people “who have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind” in the previous 12 months.
Under the Nobel Foundation’s rules, nomination shortlists are not allowed to be published for 50 years, and the organisation says any speculation ahead of the announcement is “sheer guesswork”.