La Fontaine, Henri

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La Fontaine, Henri

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  • La Fontaine, Henri Marie
  • La Fontaine, Henri-Marie
  • Lafontaine, Henri Marie

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Henri La Fontaine was born in 1854 in Brussels. He studied law the Free University of Brussels, from which he also received his doctorate, and was called to the bar in 1877. Following his studies he worked as a lawyer for the next sixteen years, specialising in public and international law. In 1893 he became professor of international law at the New University in Brussels. Two years later, he was elected to the Belgian Senate as a Socialist. He remained a Senator until 1936, acting as Vice-President of the Senate from 1919 until 1932. La Fontaine was a delegate to the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 and to the first League of Nations (LN) Assembly in 1920–1921.

La Fontaine served as president of the International Peace Bureau from 1907 until 1943. In 1907 he founded the Union of International Associations (UIA) together with Paul Otlet, which among other things published a Yearbook of International Organisations since 1909. In 1913 he received the Nobel Peace Prize for his commitment in international law and cooperation.

In 1894, La Fontaine founded the Organisation internationale et collective du travail intellectuel. In February 1919, the UIA proposed a project for cooperation among intellectuals to the Paris Peace Conference, and in March 1919 the Belgian delegate Paul Hymans suggested to make this project part of the LN Covenant. La Fontaine continued to campaign for a representation of intellectual cooperation at the LN, and in August 1921 organised an international conference for intellectual workers in Bruxelles, planning to make the UIA a part of the LN system. While La Fontaine’s plan failed and the LN eventually founded its own organisation, La Fontaine remained an important source of inspiration and a correspondent of the International Institute of Intellectual Cooperation (IIIC). He also remained President of the International Peace Bureau until his death in 1943.


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Created by Jan Stöckmann 10-08-2015. French translation by Alexandre Coutelle, 19-11-2015.




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