Paul Hymans

Paul Louis Adrien Henri Hymans (23 March 1865 – 8 March 1941), was a Belgian politician associated with the Liberal Party. He was the second President of the League of Nations, and served again as its president in 1932–33.

Paul Hymans
Paul Hymans
Paul Louis Adrien Henri Hymans

(1865-03-23)23 March 1865
Died8 March 1941(1941-03-08) (aged 75)

Hymans was the son of Belgian writer and historian Louis Hymans. He became a lawyer and professor at the Universite Libre de Bruxelles. As a politician he became Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs from 1918 to 1920 (and again from 1927 to 1935), minister of justice from 1926 to 1927, and member of the council of ministers from 1935 to 1936. In 1919, together with Charles de Broqueville and Emile Vandervelde he introduced universal suffrage for all men (one man, one vote) and compulsory education.

As foreign minister during the Great war, Hymans was successful in securing promises from the Allies that amounted to co-belligerency. Britain, France and Russia pledged in the Declaration of Sainte-Adresse in February 1916 that Belgium would be included in the peace negotiations, but its independence would be restored, and that it would receive a monetary compensation for Germany for the damage. When war began, Hymans also got major promises of relief support from the United States, with the approval of President Wilson. Relief was directed primarily by an American Herbert Hoover and involved several agencies: Commission for Relief in Belgium, American Relief Administration, and Comité National de Secours et d'Alimentation. At the Paris peace conference in 1919, Belgium officially ended its long time neutral status, and became first in line to receive reparations payments from Germany. However, Belgium received only a small bit of German territory, and was rejected in its demands for all of Luxembourg and part of the Netherlands. However, it was given colonial mandates over the German colonies of Rwanda and Burundi. Hymans was the leading spokesman for the small countries at Paris, and became president of the first assembly of the new league of Nations. He Hymans helped form the customs union of Belgium and Luxembourg (Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union) in 1921 and played a leading part in negotiating the Dawes Plan in 1924. In 1928, he signed the Kellogg-Briand Pact for Belgium.[1]

He was a Protestant and a freemason, and a member of the lodge Les Amis Philanthropes of the Grand Orient of Belgium in Brussels. Paul Hymans is interred in the Ixelles Cemetery in Brussels.


  • Paul Hymans, Pages liberales (E: Liberal Notes), 1936


  1. Holger H. Herwig, and Neil M. Heyman, eds. Biographical Dictionary of World War I (Greenwood, 1982) p 192-93.


  • Paul Hymans
  • Helmreich, J.E., Paul Hymans and Henri Jaspar : Contrasting Diplomatic Styles for a small power, in : Studia Diplomatica, XXXIX, 1986, p. 669–682.
  • Willequet, J., Les mémoires de Paul Hymans, in : Le Flambeau, 1958, nr. 9-10, p. 565–573.
Preceded by
Léon Bourgeois
President of the League of Nations
Succeeded by
Herman Adriaan van Karnebeek

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