According to Alfred Nobel's will, the prize to champions of peace is to be awarded by a committee "of five persons, to be elected by the Norwegian Storting". The rules subsequently adopted by the Storting for this election state that the members of the Committee are elected for terms of six years, and can be re-elected. As far as possible, the composition of the Committee is to reflect the relative strengths of the political parties in the Storting. The Committee chooses its own chairman and deputy chairman. The Director of the Nobel Institute serves as the Committee's secretary.
During the Committee's earliest decades, it was normal for both current Storting representatives and Government Ministers to be members. The first Committee thus consisted of Prime Minister Johannes Steen, Foreign Minister Jørgen Løvland, Storting representative John Lund, Professor of Law Bernhard Getz, and the national bard Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson.
With prominent politicians so heavily represented, it became difficult over time to convince the surrounding world that the Committee was not influenced in its work by Norwegian authorities. In 1936, in the wake of the Peace Prize award to Carl von Ossietzky, the practice was changed so as to bar members of the Government from sitting on the Committee. In 1977, out of regard for the Committee's independence, a further restriction was imposed whereby current members of the Storting can not be elected to the Nobel Committee. At the same time, the Committee changed its name from the Nobel Committee of the Norwegian Storting to the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
The Nobel Committee holds all its meetings in a special committee room at the Nobel Institute. The interior was designed by architect Carl Berner. On the walls of the committee room there are photo-portraits of all individual laureates and the emblems of all prize-winning institutions and organizations.
© Photo: Odd-Steinar Tøllefsen / Norwegian Nobel Institute