Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday "for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development."
The Norwegian Nobel Committee cited Carter's "vital contribution" to the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt and his efforts in conflict resolution on several continents and the promotion of human rights after his presidency.
"In a situation currently marked by threats of the use of power, Carter has stood by the principles that conflicts must as far as possible be resolved through mediation and international co-operation based on international law, respect for human rights, and economic development," the citation said.
The award is worth $1 million.
"I don't think there's any doubt that the Nobel Prize itself encourages people to think about peace and human rights," Carter said.
"When I was at the White House I was a fairly young man and I realized I would have maybe 25 more years of active life," Carter said, adding that he decided to "capitalize on the influence I had as the former president of the greatest nation of the world and dcided to fill vacuums."
The secretive, five-member committee made its decision last week after months of secret deliberations as it sought the right message for a world still dazed by the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, the war on terrorism that followed and concern about a possible U.S. military strike against Iraq.
Last year's award was shared by the United Nations and its secretary-general, Kofi Annan.
The peace prize announcement capped a week of Nobel prizes, with the awards for literature, medicine, physics, chemistry and economics already announced in Sweden's capital, Stockholm.
The Norwegian Nobel committee received a record 156 nominations -- 117 individuals and 39 groups -- by the Feb. 1 deadline. The list remains secret for 50 years, but those who nominate sometimes announce their choice.
Many known nominees, including former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, reflected the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States and their aftermath.
President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair were nominated, but their chances for winning seemed doubtful at a time when they are poised to launch a military strike against Iraq.
The first Nobel Peace Prize, in 1901, honored Jean Henry Dunant, the Swiss founder of the Red Cross.
The prizes were created by Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel in his will and always are presented on Dec. 10, the anniversary of his 1896 death.
This year's Nobels started Monday with the naming of medicine prize winners American H. Robert Horvitz and Britons Sydney Brenner and John E. Sulston for groundbreaking research into organ growth and cell death -- work that has opened new avenues for treating cancer, stroke and other diseases.
The physics award went Tuesday to Masatoshi Koshiba, of Japan, and Americans Riccardo Giacconi and Raymond Davis Jr. for using some of the most obscure particles and waves in nature to increase understanding of the universe.
On Wednesday, the economics prize went to Americans Daniel Kahneman and Vernon L. Smith for pioneering the use of psychological and experimental economics in decision-making. That same day, American John B. Fenn, Koichi Tanaka of Japan and Kurt Wuethrich of Switzerland were given the chemistry prize for making two existing lab techniques work for big molecules like proteins.
Imre Kertesz, a Hungarian who survived Auschwitz as a teenager, won the literature prize Thursday for writing that "upholds the fragile experience of the individual against the barbaric arbitrariness of history," the Swedish Academy said.