Pope Francis has been pipped to the the Nobel Peace Prize by Malala Yousafzay and the Indian human rights activist Kailash Satyarthi.
The pair were awarded the prize “for their struggle against the suppression of children”, according to the chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize committee, Thorbjørn Jagland.
Pope Francis had been the bookies’ favourite, with Paddy Power giving him odds of 9/4.
Mr Satyarthi campaigns against child slavery. His organisation says it has freed about 80,000 children from servitude.
Miss Yousafzay, who at 17 is the youngest winner of the prize, campaigns for education for women and was nearly shot dead by the Taliban in 2012 while on her way to school.
Mr Jagland said: “Children must go to school and not be financially exploited. It is a prerequisite for peaceful global development that the rights of children and young people be respected. In conflict-ridden areas in particular, the violation of children leads to the continuation of violence from generation to generation.”
“Showing great personal courage, Kailash Satyarthi, maintaining Gandhi’s tradition, has headed various forms of protests and demonstrations, all peaceful, focusing on the grave exploitation of children for financial gain,” Mr Jagland said. “He has also contributed to the development of important international conventions on children’s rights.”
He added: “The Nobel Committee regards it as an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism.”
The Nobel Prize, which also awards excellence in the fields of science, medicine and literature, was established in 1901.
Previous recipients of the peace prize include Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the Dalai Lama and Archibishop Desmond Tutu.
In 2001 one member of the Nobel Prize committee, Lutheran Bishop Gunnar Staalseth of Oslo, Norway, said that no pope would win the award until the Church changed its teaching on contraception, which he insisted “favours life rather than death”.
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