Born Jan. 25, 1899, in Schaerbeek, near Brussels; died July 31, 1972, in Brussels. Belgian statesman.
A lawyer by training, Spaak joined the Belgian Labor Party (from 1941, the Belgian Socialist Party) in the 1920’s. He was foreign minister in 1936–37, 1938, 1939–47, 1949, 1954–57, and 1961–66 and premier in 1938–39, 1946, and 1947–49. Before World War II (1939–45) he opposed the creation of a collective security system in Europe. In 1944 he became a leader of the Belgian Socialist Party.
Spaak was instrumental in Belgium’s acceptance of the Marshall Plan in 1947. In 1949, as Belgium’s premier and foreign minister, he signed the North Atlantic Treaty. He was secretary-general of NATO from 1957 to 1961 and one of the founders of the European Common Market. Although in the early 1960’s he spoke in support of peaceful coexistence, he remained an advocate of the preservation and strengthening of NATO. Spaak withdrew from political life in 1966. He made official visits to the USSR in 1933,1956,1961, and 1963.