Up until 1960, the Nobel Peace Prize was almost exclusively the preserve of highly educated white men from Europe and the USA. Only once had the prize gone to a candidate from a country outside Europe and the US, when it was awarded to the Argentine Foreign Minister Carlos Saavedra Lamas (1936).

The award in 1960 to the South African human rights activist Albert John Lutuli was the beginning of a gradual globalization of the Peace Prize, which picked up speed in the 1980s and 1990s.