Seán MacBride, Eisaku Sato

Nobel Peace Prize 1974

Seán MacBride

(1904-1988)

From the IRA to Amnesty International

Seán MacBride received the Peace Prize for his efforts on behalf of human rights, among other things as one of the founders of Amnesty International. In 1974 he was also Chairman of the International Peace Bureau and Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations, and had recently been elected UN Commissioner for Namibia.MacBride had nevertheless had a violent past. His father was killed in the Irish struggle for liberation from Great Britain, and he was only 13 when he joined the IRA. He took part in the concluding battles with the British before the Irish Republic was founded in 1921, and in the civil war that followed. MacBride backed Eamon de Valera in the latter's refusal to accept Northern Ireland's continuing union with England. In the 1930s, MacBride broke with the IRA and qualified in law. He defended IRA prisoners in Irish prisons who had been condemned to death.After World War II he was for a few years Minister for External Affairs for Ireland. He played a leading part in the establishment of the Council of Europe, and in the preparation of the European Convention on Human Rights of 1950.

Eisaku Sato

(1901-1975)

Symbol of Japan's will for peace

The reasons the Nobel Committee gave for awarding the Peace Prize to Eisaku Sato were that as Japanese Prime Minister he represented the will for peace of the Japanese people, and that he had signed the nuclear arms Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1970. In the Committee's opinion, the award to Sato would encourage all those who were working to halt the spread of nuclear arms.The Peace Prize to Sato was heatedly discussed, especially in Japan. He was a controversial politician. The Japanese left accused him of being an obedient servant of American interests.Sato was born into an old samurai family. He was trained as a lawyer, and before and after World War II he was employed in the Japanese railway service. After the war he pursued a political career despite charges of corruption. In 1964 he was in charge of the Olympic Games in Tokyo, and he became Prime Minister the same year. Sato supported the US war in Vietnam, while at the same time urging the United States to return the island of Okinawa to Japan. This happened in 1972, but the United States retained control of the military bases.