The Nobel Peace Prize 1902
Born: 19 February 1833, Geneva, Switzerland
Died: 7 December 1906, Bern, Switzerland
Residence at the time of the award: Switzerland
Role: Honorary Secretary, Permanent International Peace Bureau, Bern, Switzerland
Prize motivation: “for his untiring and skilful directorship of the Bern Peace Bureau”
Prize share: 1/2
Optimist and Peace Activist
Élie Ducommun was the honorary Secretary-General of the International Peace Bureau in Berne from its establishment in 1890 and until his death. The Bureau served as the link between peace organizations in different countries. In his spare time, Ducommun prepared programs for international peace congresses, published resolutions, and corresponded with promoters of peace. In addition he published numerous writings, among which his practical program for friends of peace was prominent. In it, Ducommun maintained that people could be educated to choose peaceful solutions. International arbitration was the means whereby war could be prevented.
It was chiefly his work at the Peace Bureau that earned Élie Ducommun the Nobel Peace Prize, but his life's work was many-sided. In early years he was a teacher, and then a prominent liberal democrat politician. From 1873 on he was the skilful director of the Jura-Simplon railway line, and believed that modern communications provided positive links between peoples, and could thus lead to peace.