Egil Aarvik; Nobel Official Encouraged Human Rights

From the Associated Press

Nobel Peace Prize committee chairman Egil Aarvik, who used the Nobel Peace Prize to encourage human rights, has died. He was 77.

Aarvik died Thursday at Norway's national hospital in Oslo. The cause of death was not disclosed.

A retired journalist and Christian People's Party politician, Aarvik was appointed by Parliament to the Norwegian Nobel committee in 1974 and became its chairman in 1982.

Under his influence, the committee began to use the Peace Prize to encourage pro-democracy efforts and human rights. Some awards angered governments.

Most recently, China criticized Aarvik when the Nobel committee awarded the 1989 peace prize to the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled leader.

South African Bishop Desmond Tutu, the 1984 Nobel laureate, told newspapers today that the prize to Poland's Lech Walesa in 1983 "and the recognition of the church's battle against apartheid were brave decisions that Aarvik has a great deal of the credit for."

Aarvik was born on Dec. 12, 1912, in the central Norway town of Borsa. The son of a laborer, Aarvik wanted to be an auto mechanic as a youth but went to work as a farmhand.

His higher education was limited to a year at college and three months at Bible school.

His journalism career began in 1946 with the Christian newspaper Dagsavisa, in Trondheim near his hometown. He also published a number of books.

Aarvik was elected to Parliament in 1961 and served until 1977. He was minister of social affairs from 1965 to 1971 in a non-socialist coalition government.

Aarvik is survived by his wife, Anna Cathrine, three sons, a daughter and 11 grandchildren.

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