Humanities

Le Duc Tho Is The Only Person To Have Refused The Nobel Peace Prize

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Nearly 100 Nobel Peace Prizes have been awarded since 1901. The winner is "the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses." Only one person has ever refused the honor: Le Duc Tho, a North Vietnamese politician and diplomat.

Le Duc Tho, chief of North Vietnamese negotiator at press conference in Paris.

Thanks, But No Thanks

In 1973, the Nobel Committee awarded the prize jointly to Tho and U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger for negotiating a peace settlement during the Vietnam War. Problem was, their truce was almost immediately violated and the Vietnam War continued until 1975. Le Duc Tho, as a result, refused to accept the prize.

The public agreed with Tho's decision. When the prize was originally announced, Time reported that it was met with "an unprecedented storm of criticism," and one reader who wrote in even compared giving the diplomats the Nobel Peace Prize to giving a prostitute "an award for extreme virtue."

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