Dominique Pire

Dominique Pire, founder of Iles de Paix and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1958.

Dominique Pire

The early life of Dominique Pire

Dominique Pire was born in 1910 in Dinant. The Pire family went into exile when the First World War broke out. This experience had a strong influence on Dominique’s future social commitment.


At the age of 18, he joined the Dominican order and entered the priory of La Sarte in Huy.

He quickly became involved in social initiatives to help impoverished families, including outdoor resorts for poor children, and founded the Service d’entraide familiale (SEF).

Help for war refugees

After the Second World War, he campaigned on behalf of refugees from Eastern Europe. Through his association Aide aux personnes déplacées (APD), he worked to find solutions to help refugees leave the camps where they had been placed – sponsorship, creating villages in Europe to help refugee families integrate into the local population and founding homes for elderly people with no home country.

Nobel Peace Prize

This commitment to Eastern European refugees earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1958.

The Peace University

The drama of the refugees was just the tip of the iceberg. Dominique Pire felt the need to attack the roots of the conflicts that are responsible for so many of the world’s ills. In this spirit, he founded the Peace University in 1960. Young people from all over the world came to study fraternal dialogue and peaceful conflict resolution.

Iles de Paix

Two years later, following a mission to study the refugee problem caused by the India-Pakistan conflict, Dominique Pire was struck by the issue of third world development. New awareness naturally led this man of action to make a very concrete commitment. He created the first Ile de Paix in Gohira, East Pakistan, now Bangladesh. Unlike charitable initiatives that can only respond to one-off emergencies, this project was based on a long-term collaboration with a population, providing help to develop its meagre resources.

Dominique Pire died in 1969 due to complications from surgery. He was 59.

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