It was founded in Bern in 1891 as the Permanent International Peace Bureau. The current name has been in use since 1912. Geneva has been the seat of the organisation since 1924. The Nobel Peace Prize was also awarded to eight members of the IPB including Elie Ducommun, Charles Albert Gobat, Klas Pontus Arnoldson and one of its main founders, Fredrik Bajer.

In the beginning, the IPB was almost synonymous with the peace movement of that time, which focused on arbitration procedures and bilateral peace treaties. The IPB acted in support of establishing permanent international courts and intergovernmental as well as supranational bodies for cooperation and negotiations between nations. To achieve these goals, the IPB organised, among other things, annual congresses.

Before receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, the funds at the disposal of the IPB were very modest.

After World War II, the IPB acted as the International Liaison Committee of Organisations for Peace (ILCOP). The IPB was reactivated in 1964. Nowadays, it supports and initiates cooperation for disarmament, peaceful resolution of international conflicts, abolition of nuclear weapons and protection of human rights. It also represents peace movements in the UN.

20 international organisations and approximately 300 national organisations from 70 countries are members of the IPB.

Blowjob