Henri La Fontaine is the true leader of the popular peace movement in Europe. Since 1907 he has been president of the International Peace Bureau in Bern. He is also a prominent member of the Interparliamentary Union1. La Fontaine was born on April 22, 1854, in Brussels, where he is counsel at the Court of Appeal and a professor of international law. He entered the Senate in 1895 and has been working for the cause of peace since 1889. La Fontaine is also a member of the Brussels City Council, a member sponsored by the Socialist Party. He is one of the best informed men working for peace, and his initiative and energy have done much to promote the international peace movement, particularly in the interparliamentary and peace conferences of recent years, where he has contributed to the practical organization of the movement and to the framing of international law. In 1899, for example, his activities included participation in a Peace Congress in Oslo. In 1895 he founded the International Institute of Bibliography and [later] the Central Office of International Associations2. La Fontaine has also been very active in the literary field, an example being his great documentary work on arbitration cases from 1794 to 19003. There is no one who has contributed more to the organization of peaceful internationalism, and his outstanding talent for administration has been invaluable to the peace movement. La Fontaine belongs to the moderate wing of the Socialist Party; he is the first Social Democrat to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
The laureate did not deliver a Nobel lecture.
* At the award ceremony
in the Norwegian Nobel Institute on December 10, 1913, Mr.
Løvland, chairman of the Nobel Committee and at this time
president of the Norwegian Parliament, welcomed the audience and
announced the Nobel Prizewinner for 1912 (Elihu Root) and for 1913 (Henri La
Fontaine). Neither laureate was present. Mr. Moe then spoke on
both laureates and their contributions to peace. The second part
of his speech, that on Mr. La Fontaine, is given here. The
translation is based on the Norwegian reporting of it in the Oslo
Morgenposten of December 11, 1913.
1. In effect founded in 1888 but formally constituted in 1889, the Union is composed of parliamentarians from the various nations who discuss problems of international relations and law, and of peace, promoting their solution through governmental channels; at this time it was primarily interested in encouraging arbitration of international disputes.
2. The creation of both the Institute in 1895 and the Central Office twelve years later must be credited to the initiative of two Belgian internationalists: La Fontaine and his friend Paul Otlet.
3. Pasicrisie internationale: Histoire documentaire des arbitrages internationaux, 1794-1900 (1902).
From Nobel Lectures, Peace 1901-1925, Editor Frederick W. Haberman, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1972
Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 1913