Carlos Saavedra Lamas was an Argentine politician, diplomat, labour rights legislator, international law expert and the first Latin American Nobel Peace Prize recipient. He went on to become one of the most influential men in modern Argentine history. Lamas belonged to an aristocratic family of Argentine patriots and excelled at school before studying law at the University of Buenos Aires and then started off as a professor at the University of La Plata. Lamas was not only a legal eagle but also someone who was seriously involved in reforming the condition of workers in his own country and was active in bringing about legislation in relation to labour laws in the country. He was also a supporter of the International Labour Organisation and also served as its president at one point. Lamas had also served as the foreign minister of Argentina in the 1930s and during that time he really showed is skills as an international law expert and a diplomat. During his time as foreign minister he helped in bringing to an end a damaging war among two South American countries and it is one of the reasons why he is regarded as one of the most influential diplomats of his generation.
Childhood & Early Life
Carlos Saavedra Lamas was born on 1 November, 1878 in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Although it is known that he was born in the family of an Argentine patriot; there is no record on the identity of his parents. According to some accounts, the family was an aristocratic one.
Carlos Saavedra Lamas was an exceptional student who excelled in all subjects in school and was recognised was one of the most gifted students at Lacordaire College. Subsequently, Lamas studied law at the University of Buenos Aires and in 1903 awarded the doctor of law.
After graduating from University, he went off to Paris for further education but the name of the institutions he attended is unknown. He returned to Argentina after that and was appointed as a professor at University of La Plata.
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Carlos Saavedra Lamas taught law and history of the constitution at the University of La Plata and continued at the university for 4 decades. In 1906, he commenced his public career when he became the Director of Public Credit and a year later he was made the secretary general of the Buenos Aires municipality.
He became a member of the Argentine parliament for the first time in 1908 and other than working on legislation for things like sugar production, colonisation and coastal water rights he was also involved in the country’s foreign policy. He was instrumental in reviving Argentina’s arbitration treaty with Italy. Seven years later, he was made the Minister of Justice and Education.
Carlos Saavedra Lamas was one of the leading legal experts in the field of labour laws and he wrote plenty of treatises on the subject. He was instrumental in drafting legislation in relation to labour in his country and in 1919 supported the establishment of the International Labour Organisation. He was leader of the Argentine chapter of the organisation and also wrote the treatises titled ‘Centre of Social and Labour Legislation’ and ‘National Code of Labour Law’.
In 1932, General Agustin P. Justo became the president of Argentina and in the same year Carlos Saavedra Lamas was appointed as the foreign minister of the country. During his six year stint as foreign minister; he played an important role in bringing an end to the Chaco War between Bolivia and Paraguay and also established the Treaty of Non-aggression and Conciliation between South American nations. Two years prior to the end of his tenure, he was made the president of Assembly of the League of Nations.
In 1938, he went back to the world of academics after his stint of foreign minister came to an end. He immediately started off as a professor of political economy and law at the University of Buenos Aires and three years later he went on to become the president of the university.
Lamas was without doubt one of the most influential men in Argentina and South America for his role in international diplomacy and in framing labour legislations in the country. However, the most important work of his career was to bring the Chaco War between Paraguay and Bolivia to a peaceful conclusion.
Awards & Achievements
Carlos Saavedra Lamas was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1936 for helping end the Chaco War.
He was also awarded the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour of France and the corresponding awards from 10 different countries.
Personal Life & Legacy
Carlos Saavedra Lamas got married to the daughter of one of Argentina’s presidents - Roque Saenz Pena but there is no record of the name of his wife. There is no record of any children either.
Lamas died on 5 May, 1959 in Buenos Aires due to brain haemorrhage at the age of 80.