Born in Schaarbeek (Brussels), 1899, Paul-Henri Spaak took a degree in jurisprudence at Brussels University. He became a Socialist Member of Parliament for Brussels in 1932 and subsequently Minister of Transport and of PTT. He moved from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to become Prime Minister from 1938 to 1939. After the war, which he spent with the Belgian Government in exile in London, he was again Minister of Foreign Affairs and Prime Minister from 1947 to 1949. In 1949 he presided over the first General Assembly of the United Nations.
In 1949 he was Chairman of the first session of the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe and from 1952 to 1953 President of the General Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community. in 1956 he was chosen by the Council of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to succeed Lord Ismay as Secretary General. He resigned from the post in March 1961 in order to resume his political career in the service of his own country and again became Foreign Minister of Belgium. Paul-Henri Spaak was also President of the Royal Belgian Academy of French Language and Literature. He was succeeded as Secretary General of NATO in April 1961 by Dirk Stikker. He died in 1972.