Max van der Stoel studied law. He began his political career working for the Wiardi Beckman Foundation, a think-tank of socialist party PvdA, and then became a member of the Upper House of Parliament, State Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and member of the House of Commons. Van der Stoel was Minister of Foreign Affairs between 1973 and 1977 and from 1981 until 1982. He then worked with the UN and was a member of the Council of State. In 1991, he was named Minister of State.