The Nobel committee’s decisions have often antagonised governments. The 1975 prize awarded to human rights campaigner Andrei Sakharov incensed the Soviet Union. The 1935 prize to German anti-Nazi journalist Carl von Ossietzky prompted Hitler to ban Germans from ever accepting Nobel prizes.
The committee angered China, too, by giving the prize to the Dalai Lama in 1989 months after the Tiananmen massacre. Carter won from a field that included Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Chinese dissidents and US disarmament experts in a year dominated by the aftermath of the September 11 attacks on the US.
“This honour serves as an inspiration not only to us but also to suffering people around the world and I accept it on their behalf,” Carter, a Democrat who was President from 1977 to 1981, said. The prize was hailed abroad as honouring an elder statesman who has been praised more since leaving office than when president.
“It’s great. He deserves it,” said UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who shared the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize with the UN.
A former peanut farmer, Carter was the third US President to win the Nobel Prize since it was set up in 1901, following Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 and Woodrow Wilson in 1919.