Elie Ducommun, Charles Albert Gobat

Nobel Peace Prize 1902

Élie Ducommun

(1833 - 1906)

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.


Albert Gobat

(1843 - 1914)

Inter-parliamentarian and organizer

Albert Gobat was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize first and foremost for his efforts to bring popularly elected representatives from various countries together at meetings and congresses. His work as a national politician led him into international work for peace. Gobat participated in the Inter-Parliamentary Union from its beginnings in 1889. When the Inter-Parliamentary Bureau was established in Berne three years later, Gobat was chosen to be its Secretary-General. Unsalaried, he planned the conferences which the Union held each year, drew up the agendas, and drafted proposals for resolutions. He tried to set up inter-parliamentary groups in countries which had none, edited a periodical, and distributed literature about peace and arbitration.

Gobat took over as Secretary-General of the International Peace Bureau when Élie Ducommun died in 1906. This meant that he was at the same time heading the offices of both the inter-parliamentary and the popular peace movement. Gobat lived to see the International Peace Bureau honored with the Nobel Peace Prize for 1910.