Elie Ducommun was a journalist and a brilliant lecturer. He spent most of his professional life working as a secretary for the Jura-Bern-Lucerne railway (later renamed Jura-Simplon railway), which he started in 1875. He devoted almost all of his free time to his peace activities. He was active in the movement for the European unification. He edited “Les Etats-Unis d’Europe” (“The United States of Europe”) – a periodical published by the International League for Peace and Liberty, founded in 1867.
In 1891, he became the director of the International Peace Bureau. After 1895, he published the Bureau’s bimonthly journal. He was the author of many works regarding the peace movement. He directed the International Peace Bureau until his death. He strove to unite many different peace societies from all over the world. He was also a member of the local authorities in Bern and Geneva.
Charles Albert Gobat – a lawyer, Honorary Secretary of the Permanent International Peace Bureau, Secretary-General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). The IPU, founded largely through the efforts of the Nobel Peace Prize laureates Frédéric Passy and William Randal Cremer, brought together interested members from the parliaments of different countries. By doing so and making use of democratic institutions, it strove to improve collaboration among nations. When Gobat served as its Secretary-General, its primary objective was to promote international arbitration.
From 1890 until his death, he was a member of the National Council of the Swiss Confederation (the lower house of the Federal Assembly, a counterpart of the Polish Sejm). He was a liberal and a moderate reformer. In 1902, he applied the principle of arbitration to commercial treaties.
Gobat presided over the fourth conference of the IPU convened in 1892 in Bern, which became the official seat of the Inter-Parliamentary Bureau. He served as its director for 17 years without remuneration. After Ducommun’s death, he took over the leadership of the International Peace Bureau for eight years.
He died with his boots on. While attending the peace conference in Bern, he arose as if to speak but collapsed, dying about an hour later.