The Nobel Peace Prize committee demoted chairman Thorbjoern Jagland on Tuesday.
The Oslo, Norway-based committee gave no reason for downgrading the former Norwegian prime minister and respected diplomat from his perch.
At the same time, as German media conglomerate Deutsche Welle observes, Jagland was widely condemned in 2009 when his committee bestowed the prestigious award on then-newly elected President Barack Obama.
Jagland, 64, was serving his first year as Peace Prize chairman when his committee conferred the international award upon Obama for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”
The committee announced that Obama would receive the award in October 2009, just over eight months after he became president. (RELATED: Remember When Obama Was The Messiah?)
In response to a barrage of criticism, Jagland proclaimed that the Nobel committee’s goal was to hail Obama’s oratory about removing nuclear weapons from the world. Jagland also said he hoped to symbolize “the spirit of the times, the needs of the era,” according to Deutsche Welle.
When Obama received his Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, the United States was engaged in wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
The war in Iraq officially ended more than two years later, in December 2011. Since that time, the political situation has deteriorated markedly. A new entity called ISIS currently controls a portion of Iraq and Syria which is, in total, twice the size of Pennsylvania. (RELATED: Ten Things You Won’t Believe About The Islamic State’s Radical LUNATICS)
The American-led coalition in Afghanistan officially ended combat in December 2014. However, U.S. forces continue to skirmish constantly with militant Islamic radicals.
Jagland faced more controversy three years later, in 2012, when his committee awarded the Peace Prize to the European Union for its commitment to “peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights.”
At the time, he also oversaw the Council of Europe, a 47-nation group that includes Norway. Thus, critics charged, Jagland had a major conflict of interest.
Jagland’s ejection from the chairmanship marks the first time that a sitting Nobel Peace Prize committee boss has been demoted in the history of the prize — since 1901.
The shifting membership of Norway’s parliament governs the appointment of committee members.
Jagland’s replacement will be Kaci Kullmann Five, a respected member of Norway’s Conservative Party, which currently controls the nation’s parliament.
“There was broad agreement within the committee that Thorbjoern Jagland was a good chair for six years,” Kullmann Five said, according to Deutsche Welle.
Jagland will continue to be a member of the committee.
The Nobel Peace Prize is the one of the five Nobel Prizes created by the Swedish business mogul Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite.
Prize winners get a medal, a diploma and a substantial amount of cash.
In 2009, Obama received $1.4 million.
Obama gifted his winnings to several charities including the United Negro College Fund, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, the American Indian College Fund and the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.