Dutch jurist and professor of international law. He shared the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1911 with Austrian pacifist Alfred Fried for his work in creating the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague Peace Conference of 1899.
Asser was one of the founders in 1873 of the Institute of International Law and the Review of International Law and Comparative Legislation. He believed that peace was dependent on the formulation of a uniform international private law which could be taken up and emulated by individual nations. His interest in international law led him to co-found, with Belgian Gustave Rolin-Jaequemyns and Englishman John Westlake, the journal Revue de Droit International et de Législation Comparée/Review of International Law and of Comparative Legislation in 1869. He persuaded the Dutch government to host four conferences in The Hague on international law in 1893, 1894, 1900, and 1904, which he presided over. His publications include Schets van het internationaal Privatrecht (1877) and Schets van het Nederlandsche Handelsrecht (1904).
Born in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, into a family with a tradition in the field of law, after a brilliant school career Asser was educated at the Athenaeum in Amsterdam becoming a doctor of laws in 1860 at the age of 22. That same year he was appointed by the Dutch government as a member of an international commission to abolish tolls on the Rhine river. He then became professor of private law at the Athenaeum in 1862, continuing as professor of international and commercial law when it became the University of Amsterdam from 1876 to 1893. He received decorations from the governments of the Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, and Italy.