The Nobel Peace Prize 1936
Carlos Saavedra Lamas
Radio Address by Carlos Saavedra Lamas, delivered on November 29, 1931, after the announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo on November 25, 1931.
Carlos Saavedra Lamas was unable to attend the presentation ceremonies held in Oslo on December 10, 1936, for he was presiding at the Inter-American Conference for the Maintenance of Peace which was then meeting in Buenos Aires. When the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Saavedra Lamas, the first South American to receive the prize; was made public in Buenos Aires on November 25, the news took precedence over reports on the Spanish Civil War and the impending visit of President Franklin D. Roosevelt to the Conference. The National Broadcasting Company of the United States invited Saavedra Lamas to deliver a radio message to the people of the United States on the significance of the prize. From Buenos Aires on the evening of November 29, he delivered a brief address carried throughout the United States by the NBC network. His speech, delivered in Spanish, was followed by an English translation given by Dr. L. S. Rowe, director-general of the Pan American Union in Washington, D.C. Since this radio address has some of the characteristics typical of an acceptance speech and since Saavedra Lamas did not deliver a Nobel lecture later, the address is given here. The text is that of the Rowe translation as transcribed by N B C and published in the New York Times for November 30.1
I feel greatly honored in being designated the recipient of the Nobel Prize. To this distinction I give no personal interpretation, but attribute it rather to the high standards of the foreign policy of my country.
It is true I have devoted a great part of my life to collaborating principally in the political field in carrying out that ideal, and as a citizen of America who has presided over five conferences to promote peace I feel that I may interpret the aspirations of the nations of this continent. America is the world of peace and must be made the continent of its definite consequence.
The achievement of that supreme objective should not, however, be based in any way on narrowness or egotism, for in the universe in which we live we are bound together by an interdependence which reacts with intense repercussions on the life of the world as a whole.
Peace cannot be obtained merely by the artificial efforts of the ministries of foreign affairs if the latter limit their purposes to the coordination of interests, transitory and accidental, in the field of politics.
To achieve this object it is necessary to bear in mind the economic and the social order. It was not in vain that the Treaty of Versailles formulated the principle that social peace must be erected on the basis of greater social justice. That contest, sometimes forgotten, must impel us to forever give to collective humanity greater security, greater comfort, and a more assured livelihood.
Unemployment is a great tragedy. The man who goes about hopelessly seeking work in order to earn bread for his children is a living reproach to civilization. Economic conditions, however, arise out of facts, and the dislocation of interchange, national selfishness, the barriers and obstacles which the blindness of man places in the path of international commerce are contrary to nature, which, recognizing the unequal distribution of wealth and the diversity of its regional distribution, has sought to establish a means for the interchange of products.
Such maladjustment is the underlying cause of rebellion, of protest, of subversive movements. Its eradication will mean elimination of the motives underlying the extreme extent of institutional abnormalities which are aimed to determine and to represent moods: that is to say, the inalienable right of the people to control their destiny, or, on the contrary, to have them degenerate into demagoguery, communism, or anarchy.
The world longs for peace; it needs it as the fertilizing rain is desired by the earth in order that there may again arise a better life for manthe joyous pleasures of the home, the serene march along the paths of labor.
We are living in the aftermath of a great war. The fabric which civilization has been weaving in its efforts of centuries, once broken, is difficult to reconstruct. Under its broken web there appears a native barbarism, the impeccable cruelty which in centers of the oldest civilization emerges from the immense depths to which they have fallen, destroying the most beautiful entity in their intoxication of destruction.
War of aggression, war which does not imply defense of one's country, is a collective crime. In its consequences on the great mass of the poor and humble, it does not possess even that blaze of valor, or heroism, that leads to glory. War implies a lack of comprehension of mutual national interests; it means the undermining and even the end of culture. It is the useless sacRADIO rifice of courage erroneously applied, opposed to that other silent courage that signifies the effort to aid others to improve existence by raising all in this fleeting moment of ours to higher levels of existence.
From Nobel Lectures, Peace 1926-1950, Editor Frederick W. Haberman, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1972
Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 1936