Award ceremony speech

Presentation Speech by Jørgen Gunnarsson Løvland, Chairman of the Nobel Committee, on December 10, 1910*

Chairman of the Committee Løvland then announced that the Peace Prize for this year had been awarded to the permanent Peace Bureau in Bern.

He then briefly reviewed the peace movement in Europe which, as we all know, has made steady headway since the great Napoleonic Wars. The idea had earlier been championed by men like Kant1 and Rousseau2. First attempts were made to form organizations in America and in England. The cause was supported by Garibaldi3 and his comrades-in-arms and by the writer Victor Hugo4.

The Permanent International Peace Bureau (Bureau international permanent de la paix) was founded in 1891, with its headquarters in Bern. It was clear from the annual peace congresses that a central office was needed to act as a link between the peace societies of the various countries, and in particular to help the local congress committees to organize the world rallies. To make the Bureau a legally constituted body empowered to receive donations and legacies, it was made the agency of a society (Société du Bureau international permanent de la paix) in accordance with Swiss law. Admission to membership is open to any institution, association, or individual upon a simple declaration of agreement with the objectives of the society.

The Bureau is now under the control of a Commission of thirty-five members from the various countries under a president, at the present time Belgian Senator Henri La Fontaine. Three members must live in Bern where the offices of the Bureau are situated and supervised by an honorary secretary-general. Nobel Prizewinner Élie Ducommun held this office from the time of the Bureau’s founding until his death in 1906, a period during which he rendered most valuable services to the organization.

The present secretary-general is Nobel Prizewinner Dr. Gobat, member of the [Swiss] Federal Council. Both men have worked without compensation.

The economic position of the Peace Bureau has been difficult. In addition to the interest on a capital of about 40,000 francs, it has for some years received smaller fixed annual grants from Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. With some private contributions, it has about 8,000 francs per annum. Most of this is spent on the publication of the journal Correspondance bimensuelle, which gives news of the peace movement and lists new literature on the subject of peace. The Bureau issues a yearbook, Annuaire du mouvement pacifiste, with valuable information and papers on international affairs, institutions, and personalities. Since 1894 the Bureau has had an affiliated American office in Washington.

It is the function of the Bern Bureau to facilitate communications between the societies and individuals, and to collect information on the peace movement; it has a record office and a library; it also prepares the questions to be put before the annual world peace congresses and implements the decisions of the congresses.

It has long been the common wish of all those in the peace movement throughout the world that the Bureau be awarded the Peace Prize. The World Peace Congress in Munich in 1908 directed a general request to all those entitled to make nominations, to name the Bureau.

The Nobel Committee has also received recommendations from, among others, the Swedish and Danish Peace Unions.

We are convinced that this award is entirely in the spirit of Alfred Nobel’s plan; he wanted his money to be used to support, accelerate, and promote the peace movement.

We firmly hope and expect that this year’s prize will further this aim and that the fruits of the award will be harvested in the years to come.

The Nobel lecture usually delivered by the prizewinner was not given in this case.

* Mr. Løvland announced the award of the Peace Prize for 1910 on the afternoon of December 10, 1910, in the auditorium of the Norwegian Nobel Institute. There is no original text of his speech extant, but the Oslo Aftenposten for December 10, 1910, carries a reporter’s version of the speech which is here printed in full in English translation. It would appear that the reporter in the first two paragraphs is summarizing Mr. Løvland’s remarks, and that thereafter he is striving to record the speech as delivered.

1. Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), German philosopher; wrote On Perpetual Peace (1795).

2. Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), French philosopher; wrote The Social Contract (1762), outlining the political principles of a governmental utopia.

3. Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807-1882), Italian patriot and soldier; supported, mostly by personal correspondence and letters to the press, an International Court of Justice, a United States of Europe, free education, and other plans to promote international understanding.

4. Victor Hugo (1802-1885), French author; was associated with peace movements in the mid-19th century – for example, he chaired the Peace Congress held in Paris in 1849 and in his welcoming speech made his famous allusion to the «United States of Europe».

From Nobel Lectures, Peace 1901-1925, Editor Frederick W. Haberman, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1972


Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 1910

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