He was elected to the Chamber of Deputies in 1873, and became Minister of Public Works under Jules Malou, greatly improving the rail, canal and road systems. After his tenure as Prime Minister, he represented Belgium at the Hague conventions of 1899 and 1907. He was also co-winner (with Paul d'Estournelles de Constant) of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1909 for his work at the Permanent Court of Arbitration. He was chosen as president of the panel established under the rules of that organization in the Sarvarkar Case in 1911. A year later, he died in Lucerne, Switzerlanda. A lawyer by profession, he served as Minister of Public Works. He served as prime minister and Minister of Finance from 1884 to 1894. He held the post of president of the international law of association from 1903 to 1905. He was Belgium's first representative to the Hague peace conferences in 1899 and 1907.