Cremer established the International Arbitration League in 1870. He initiated an arbitration treaty between Great Britain and the USA. Cremer organized and promoted inter-parliamentary peace conferences, and he was editor of the journal "The Arbitrator". He was the only labor leader in the peace movement. Cremer was also one of the founders of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. Passy's career as a peace worker began in 1856 with his opposition to the Crimean War. In 1867 he founded the first French peace society (Ligue internationale et permanente de la paix). Passy promoted free trade, pacifism, international law and arbitration. As a member of parliament (1881-1889), Passy also contributed to the founding of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. Suttner was the author of the novel "Die Waffen nieder" (Lay Down Your Arms), the most important antiwar novel of the period. She was the founder and president of the Austrian Peace Society (1891), and she contributed to the foundation of the Permanent International Peace Bureau (1891). Suttner was nominated for her contribution to the international peace movement.
Apponyi wanted his three candidates to share the peace prize, and to divide the prize money equally among them (Cremer 35%), Passy (35%) and Suttner (30%).
Only Cremer and Passy were included on the short list.