22 April: Remembering Henri La Fontaine on Birthday

OV Digital Desk
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Henri La Fontaine

Henri La Fontaine (22 April 1854 – 14 May 1943) was a Belgian lawyer, pacifist, and advocate for international law and human rights. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1913.

Life and Career

He was born on 22 April 1854 in Brussels, Belgium. He attended the Université libre de Bruxelles, where he studied law and earned a degree in 1877. During his time at university, he became involved in politics and social activism and joined the Belgian Labor Party.

After completing his studies, La Fontaine became a lawyer and began practicing law in Brussels. He also became involved in various social and political causes, including the promotion of peace and disarmament. In 1883, he was appointed as the Secretary-General of the International Law Association, a position he held for 19 years.

He was a leading expert on international law and was involved in the drafting of several international conventions and treaties. He played an important role in the establishment of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague and worked to promote the use of arbitration as a means of resolving international disputes.

He was a strong advocate for disarmament and worked to promote the idea of collective security. He was a member of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, which worked to promote disarmament and was a co-founder of the International Peace Bureau, an organization dedicated to promoting disarmament and international cooperation.

La Fontaine was also a strong advocate for human rights and was a member of the Belgian section of the International Association for the Defense of Religious Liberty. He was also a member of the International Association for the Defense of Political and Individual Rights and worked to promote freedom of speech and other civil liberties.

He was a member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and worked to promote women’s suffrage and equal rights.

He believed that education was essential for promoting peace and understanding between nations. He founded the Belgian School of Peace Education and was involved in the establishment of the Free University of Brussels.

He died on 14 May 1943 in Brussels, Belgium.

Award and Legacy

In 1913, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work as an international peace activist and for his efforts to establish the International Bureau of Peace at The Hague.

In 1963, the International Peace Bureau (IPB) established the Henri La Fontaine Prize for outstanding work in the cause of peace. The award is named after La Fontaine in recognition of his dedication and achievements in the field of peacebuilding.

The legacy of Henri La Fontaine lives on through the work of the IPB and through the efforts of the individuals and organizations that have been recognized with the Henri La Fontaine Prize. His commitment to peace and his vision for a world without war continue to inspire and motivate people around the world to work towards a more peaceful and just society.

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