UNICEF History

1965 Nobel Peace Prize awarded to UNICEF

Nineteen years after its founding, UNICEF was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on 26 October 1965 for "fulfilling the condition of Nobel's will, the promotion of brotherhood among the nations“ and emerging on the world stage as a “a peace-factor of great importance.” This event was made possible by in the growth of a global partnership involving governments, private and non-governmental organizations and the world's peoples, to take advantage of increasing opportunities for improving the lives of children everywhere.


UNICEF Executive Director Henry Labouisse giving the acceptance speech for the Peace Prize
. (Photo © UNICEF)

In his acceptance speech, UNICEF Executive Director Henry R. Labouisse said: “To all of us in UNICEF the prize will be a wonderful incentive to greater efforts in the name of peace. You have given us new strength. You have reinforced our profound belief that each time UNICEF contributes...to giving today’s children a chance to grow into useful and happier citizens, it contributes to removing some of the seeds of world tension and future conflicts.”


UNICEF 'Ambassador-at-large' Danny Kaye attends the Nobel Prize ceremony. (Photo © UNICEF)

Referring to the more than 120 governments who were contributors -- on a voluntary basis -- to supporting UNICEF’s work for children, and to a similar number of countries who were receiving UNICEF assistance, Mr. Labouisse said: “Such world-wide cooperation contributes, in itself, to a better understanding within the family of Man. But to me, the great, the most important meaning of this Nobel award is the solemn recognition that the welfare of today’s children is inseparably linked with the peace of tomorrow’s world. The sufferings end privations to which I have referred do not ennoble. They frustrate and embitter. The longer the world tolerates the slow war of attrition which poverty and ignorance now wage against 800 million children in the developing countries, the more likely it becomes that our hope for lasting peace will be the ultimate casualty.” 

Displayed below are the original telegram and letter from the Nobel Committee awarding UNICEF the Peace Prize (click to access larger size), an image of the Nobel Prize medallion (replica), the Nobel Scroll and a poster commemorating the Prize.


(Click to enlarge) "URGENT THE NOBEL COMMITTEE OF THE NORWEGIAN PARLIAMENT HAS TODAY AWARDED TO UNICEF THE NOBEL PEACEPRIZE FOR 1965 STOP MUST NOT BE PUBLISHED TIL 6 PM NORWEGIAN TIME STOP LETTER FOLLOWS" -25 October 1965.


(Click to enlarge) The official letter from Gunnar Jahn of the the Nobel Committee to UNICEF.


(Click to enlarge) A replica of the Medal.


(Click to enlarge) The Nobel Scroll.


(Click to enlarge) A poster commemorating the event (click for PDF version).

"Compassion Knows No National Boundaries"
"Everyone has understood the language of UNICEF...Even the most reluctant person is bound to admit that in action UNICEF has proved that compassion knows no national boundaries. Aid is given to all children without any distinction of race, creed, nationality or political conviction...UNICEF has become an international device capable of liberating hundreds of millions of children from ignorance, disease, malnutrition and starvation...The aim of UNICEF is to spread a table decked with all the good things that Nature provides for all the children of the world...UNICEF offers young people an alternative worth living and working for, a world of freedom for all people, equality between all races, brotherhood among all men." -- From the Nobel Citation, 1965

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