Tobias Asser


Tobias Michael Carel Asser

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Tobias Michael Carel Asser
The Nobel Peace Prize 1911

Born: 28 April 1838, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Died: 29 July 1913, the Hague, the Netherlands

Residence at the time of the award: the Netherlands

Role: Initiator of the Conferences on International Private Law at the Hague; Cabinet Minister; Lawyer

Prize motivation: “for his role as co-founder of the Institut de droit international, initiator of the Conferences on International Private Law (Conférences de Droit international privé) at the Hague, and pioneer in the field of international legal relations”

Prize share: 1/2

The Hugo Grotius of his Day

The lawyer Tobias Asser was a co-founder in 1873 of the Institute of International Law, the first organization to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (1904). Asser was an expert in international private law. At several conferences in the 1890s, he advocated that the world's states should enter into binding agreements on how private law disputes must be settled. This related for instance to matters concerning marriage, separation and divorce. His text-book in international private law was translated into several languages.

Asser was also active at the international peace conferences at the Hague in 1899 and 1907, where he sought to extend and improve the Geneva Convention. But it was to his work in the field of private law that the greatest importance was attached when he was awarded the Peace Prize. Knowledge of the legal framework in other countries would promote peace. There were good reasons, then, for comparing Tobias Asser with his countryman Hugo Grotius, the founder of international law in 1600s.

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