Carlos Saavedra Lamas

Speed read

Carlos Saavedra Lamas was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his accomplishments as the architect of the South American Anti-War Pact and negotiator between Paraguay and Bolivia.

Carlos Saavedra Lamas
Carlos Saavedra Lamas Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.

Full name: Carlos Saavedra Lamas
Born: 1 November 1878, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Died: 5 May 1959, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Date awarded: 24 November 1936

Latin America’s first laureate

Carlos Saavedra Lamas of Argentina was the first Nobel Peace Prize laureate from a country outside of Western Europe or the USA. Born into the Argentine aristocracy, he earned a doctoral degree in law and became a professor of constitutional law. At age 30 he was elected to the national assembly, and he later served as minister of justice and education before becoming minister of foreign affairs in 1932. Saavedra Lamas is credited for convincing Argentina to rejoin the League of Nations, and he played a major role in the organisation’s condemnation of fascist Italy’s war against Ethiopia in 1935. He also helped to negotiate peace between Paraguay and Bolivia after the Chaco War of the early 1930s, and he was one of the main architects behind the South American Anti-War Pact condemning all wars of aggression.

”He was the driving force behind the rebuilding of the entente of the A B C States of South America – Argentina, Brazil and Chile – helped settle the Chaco-war between Paraguay and Bolivia and was the author of the Pan-American anti-war pact.”

- US newspaper New York Times, 25 November 1936.

Saavedra Lamas and the Chaco War

In 1932 full-scale war erupted between Paraguay and Bolivia over control of the Gran Chaco border region. There were brutal skirmishes in the jungle and desert, and many soldiers died of malaria and dysentery. Saavedra Lamas initiated negotiations that resulted in the withdrawal of troops from the region. Prisoners of war were exchanged, and deliberations regarding the border dispute recommenced. The final peace accord, signed in 1938, stipulated that most of Gran Chaco was to be turned over to Paraguay.

”The mediation in the Chaco dispute …reached a successful conclusion under the leadership of Saavedra Lamas.”

- Frede Castberg, Adviser’s report to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, 1935.

Saavedra Lamas and Norwegian stockfish

The Norwegian ambassador in Buenos Aires, Rolf Andvord, played a key behind-the-scenes role when the Nobel Committee awarded the peace prize to Saavedra Lamas. Andvord knew several of the committee members and advisers, and he provided them with information on the Argentine candidate. Grateful to the ambassador for his efforts, Saavedra Lamas was filled with goodwill toward Norway. He arranged for duties to be lowered on Norwegian stockfish exported to Argentina. This is the only known instance in which Norway has derived any economic benefit from the award of the peace prize.

”War of aggression, war which does not imply defence of one’s own country, is a collective crime.”

- Carlos Saavedra Lamas, Radio Address, 1936.

Learn more

Born in Buenos Aires, Carlos Saavedra Lamas was a member of the «aristocracy» of Argentina. A descendant of an early Argentinian patriot, he married the daughter of a president of the Republic. ...
Carlos Saavedra Lamas

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