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.