Philip Noel-Baker was born on 1st November, 1889. His father, Joseph Allen Baker, was a Quaker who ran a successful machine manufacturing form. Baker, a pacifist, was a member of the London County Council (1895-1907) and the House of Commons (1905-1918).
After graduating from King's College, Cambridge, he continued his education in Paris and Munich and in 1914 was appointed vice-principal of Ruskin College in Oxford. On the outbreak of the First World War he became the commandant of the Friends' Ambulance Unit and served on the Western Front (1914-15) and in Italy (1915-18).
In 1918 Noel-Baker became principal assistant to Robert Cecil on the committee which drafted the League of Nations Covenant. After its formation he was a member of the Secretariat of the League as served as principal assistant to Sir Eric Drummond, the secretary-general of the League.
In 1924 Noel-Baker became professor for international relations at London University. He held the post until 1929 when he was appointed as a member of the British delegation to the Assembly of the League of Nations. During this period Noel-Baker wrote several books including The League of Nations at Work (1926), Disarmament (1926) and Disarmament and the Coolidge Conference (1927).
In 1936 the Conservative government feared the spread of communism from the Soviet Union to the rest of Europe. Stanley Baldwin, the British prime minister, shared this concern and was fairly sympathetic to the military uprising in Spain against the left-wing Popular Front government.
Leon Blum, the prime minister of the Popular Front government in France, initially agreed to send aircraft and artillery to help the Republican Army in Spain. However, after coming under pressure from Stanley Baldwin and Anthony Eden in Britain, and more right-wing members of his own cabinet, he changed his mind.
In the House of Commons on 29th October 1936, Philip Noel-Baker, Clement Attlee and Arthur Greenwood argued against the government policy of Non-Intervention. As Noel-Baker pointed out: "We protest with all our power against the sham, the hypocritical sham, that it now appears to be."
During the Second World War he joined the government as parliamentary secretary to the Master of War Transport. In 1944 Noel-Baker was placed in charge of British preparatory work for the United Nations and the following year helped to draft the Charter of the UN at San Francisco. In 1946 Noel-Baker was a member of the British delegation.
In the government led by Clement Attlee Noel-Baker served as Minister of State in the Foreign Office (1945-1946), Secretary of State for Air (1946-1947), Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (1947-1950) and Minister of Fuel and Power (1950-51).
After the Labour Party lost the 1951 General Election Noel-Baker became a member of the shadow cabinet. He also published his books, The Arms Race: A Programme for World Disarmament (1958). The following year he won the Nobel Peace Prize.
In 1960 Noel-Baker was appointed as president of the International Council on Sport and Physical Recreation of UNESCO. Other books by Noel-Baker include The Arms Race (1960), The Private Manufacture of Armaments (1975)Disarm or Die (1978) and The First World Disarmament Conference (1979).
Philip Noel-Baker died in London on 8th October, 1982.