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The Nobel Peace Prize 1902
Élie Ducommun, Albert Gobat

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The Nobel Peace Prize 1902

Toast by Jørgen Gunnarsson Løvland, Chairman of the Nobel Committee, on May 16, 1904*

Dear Mr. Ducommun, when the Committee of the Norwegian Parliament was asked to honor and reward the work of peace, our thoughts immediately turned to the men who have done this work during the long difficult years when it was received with a shaking of heads and a shrugging of shoulders, with apathy, if not with contempt. It was quite natural, then, that three of the first Nobel prizewinners should be Swiss1. Your country, Sir, has, in difficult times not so long ago that the older people here cannot remember them, been a place of refuge, an asylum, not only for political refugees, for persecuted fighters for freedom, and for reformers, but also for misunderstood and persecuted ideas of freedom and progress. Thus the idea of peace, humanity, justice, and brotherhood among nations has in your country above all others found sympathy and active support. What we must never forget is this: You Swiss, with your sense of life's realities, have a special gift for taking ideas from the realm of dreams and turning them into realities.

The Swiss were the people who founded the Red Cross2, and it is two Swiss who now lead two important branches of the peace movement, the parliamentary branch and the popular branch3. In you, Sir, we greet the leader of the latter, the untiring and skillful director of the Bern Peace Bureau and therefore head of the united work of all the peace societies of the world.

The peace societies, whose activities comprise what I have called the popular peace movement, cannot be esteemed too highly. They have participated in the preparation of the ground and in the sowing of the seed which is now showing healthy growth. They have contributed to the creation of the sentiments, feelings, and ideas which shape national opinion and move parliaments, governments, and heads of state to espouse our cause and to achieve our goal.

We offer our homage and our thanks to you and to the peace societies for all that has been thought, written, said, and above all urged in the cause of peace under your leadership. We are still at the beginning, despite all the progress that has been made. There seems to be no end to what still has to be done. We need, and always shall need, sustained and ever increasing work. I shall therefore conclude by expressing the wish that for many years to come we may have the benefit of your great heart, your experience, your knowledge and practical ability, and, not least, your untiring energy at the head of the Peace Bureau in Bern.

To the health of Mr. Ducommun! Long may he live!


* Mr. Løvland, also at this time minister of public works, offered this speech as a toast to the laureate at the banquet given in his honor on May 16, 1904, the day of the laureate's Nobel address. It is given here in lieu of the usual presentation speech since there is no text or record of such a speech for either the announcement ceremony in 1902 or the occasion of the laureate's address in 1904. This translation is based on the text in German, the language in which Mr. Løvland spoke, printed in the Oslo Aftenposten on May 17, 1904.

1. The other two were Jean Henri Dunant (1828-1910), co-recipient for the year 1901, and Charles Albert Gobat (1843-1914), co-recipient for the year 1902.

2. The Red Cross was initiated in Geneva in 1863 largely through the effort of Jean Henri Dunant; see pp. 5-7.

3. Albert Gobat was head of the Interparliamentary Bureau with headquarters in Bern. The Bureau was established by the Interparliamentary Union in 1892.

 

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The Nobel Peace Prize 1902

Toast by Jørgen Gunnarsson Løvland, Chairman of the Nobel Committee, at the Nobel Institute on July 18, 1906*

I have the honor to propose the health of our Swiss guest, the Nobel laureate Dr. Albert Gobat. You all know that in his capacity as head of the Interparliamentary Bureau in Bern, he has, ever since the Bureau's founding, directed the activities of the Interparliamentary Union. During this time the Union has grown considerably and is now one of the major factors in international politics. The fact that it has energetically and yet prudently attacked the problems of the present day is due mainly to its eminently practical administration (I was going to say its Swiss administration).

There has always been a governmental diplomatic service, and I am delighted to welcome some of its eminent representatives here. Dr. Gobat himself is in the service of a new type of diplomacy - parliamentary diplomacy. Far from finding himself in opposition, he has already demonstrated that these two kinds of diplomatic service can and do exist in cordial cooperation.

In congratulating Dr. Gobat for the results he has achieved, we also extend our sincere good wishes for the future of his work and we particularly wish him success in the important conference soon to be held in London1.


* Mr. Løvland, also at this time foreign minister of Norway, introduced Dr. Gobat when the laureate made his speech at the Nobel Institute on July 18, 1906. Since there is no text of his introductory remarks, however, and since there was apparently no presentation speech at the award ceremony itself on December 10, 1902, this brief speech, delivered as a toast by Mr. Løvland at his banquet for Dr. Gobat that evening, is given here instead. The translation is based on the text in French, the language in which Mr. Løvland spoke, published in the Oslo Aftenposten on July 19, 1906.

1. The fourteenth Interparliamentary Conference held in London, July 23-25, 1906.

From Nobel Lectures, Peace 1901-1925, Editor Frederick W. Haberman, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1972

 

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