Tobias Michael Carel Asser
Born: 28 April 1838, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Died: 29 July 1913, the Hague, the Netherlands
Residence at the time of the award: the Netherlands
Role: Lawyer, Cabinet Minister, Initiator of the Conferences on International Private Law at the Hague
Field: peace movement
Prize share: 1/2
The lawyer Tobias Asser was a co-founder in 1873 of the Institute of International Law, the first organization to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (1904). Asser was an expert in international private law. At several conferences in the 1890s, he advocated that the world's states should enter into binding agreements on how private law disputes must be settled. This related for instance to matters concerning marriage, separation and divorce. His text-book in international private law was translated into several languages.
Asser was also active at the international peace conferences at the Hague in 1899 and 1907, where he sought to extend and improve the Geneva Convention. But it was to his work in the field of private law that the greatest importance was attached when he was awarded the Peace Prize. Knowledge of the legal framework in other countries would promote peace. There were good reasons, then, for comparing Tobias Asser with his countryman Hugo Grotius, the founder of international law in 1600s.