Declaring himself “both surprised and deeply humbled, President Obama said he would accept The Nobel Peace Prize as a “call to action.”
Talking to reporters in the White House Rose Garden, Obama questioned whether he had done enough to earn the prestigious award, but said it would use it to “confront the challenges of the 21st century.”
Obama will travel to Oslo, Norway, in December to accept the award.
Obama, 48, is the third U.S. president to win the prize while in office. The other two were Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. Former President Jimmy Carter won the prize in 2002, more than two decades after he left office.
In awarding Obama the world’s most coveted prize, the Nobel committee cited the president’s work to improve international diplomacy and rid the world of nuclear weapons.
“Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future,” the committee said. “His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.”
Some questioned whether Obama, just nine months in office, had done enough to justify such recognition.
The president seemed to agree.
“Let me be clear,” he told reporters, “ I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations.”
Obama said he was aware that “throughout history, the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement, it’s also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes.”
The award apparently surprised the White House.
“After I received the news,” he said, “Malia walked in and said, ‘Daddy, you won the Nobel Peace Prize, and it is Bo’s birthday.’ And then Sasha added, ‘Plus, we have a three-day weekend coming up.’ So it’s – it’s good to have kids to keep things in perspective.”
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