Celebrating the Peace Palace
A century of inspiration for peace and justice
Published: 04 June 2012 Modified: 05 June 2012
The Peace Palace in The Hague will celebrate its 100th anniversary in August 2013. It was built in 1913 with funds from a donation made by celebrated steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.
Peace Palace visitors centre
The Carnegie Foundation still owns the land and the building even today and is also host to the international organisations working in the palace. The Carnegie Foundation, the Municipality of The Hague and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs are currently working together to prepare a programme to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Peace Palace and to serve as further inspiration for international peace and justice.
The Peace Palace is the result of Andrew Carnegie’s vision that international peace could be created through international law. This is the reason why he donated $ 1.5 million to build the Palace with the condition that the Permanent Court of Arbitration would be housed there as well as a top-quality legal library. Both of these were subsequently installed in the Peace Palace in 1913 and The Hague Academy of International Law was established there 20 years later.
The Permanent Court of International Justice was set up in the Peace Palace in 1922, to be succeeded by the International Court of Justice in 1946 on formation of the United Nations. The special tribunals that form part of the International Court of Justice, such as the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, are housed at other locations in The Hague due to lack of space.
The Peace Palace as it is today exceeds Andrew Carnegie’s wildest dreams since not only disputes between nations are settled in The Hague, but government leaders can also be brought to trial at the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.
Peace Palace visitors centre interior
The Carnegie Foundation, the Municipality of The Hague and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs plan to celebrate the Peace Palace’s 100th anniversary by organising a wide range of activities and festivities. After all, the commemoration provides a unique opportunity for drawing international attention again to the theme of Peace & Justice. The main outlines of the programme are as follows:
- Peace Palace: In the spring of 2012 the building – which is first and foremost a working palace – will be opened to the public at weekends and during the summer months. A new visitors centre has been completed in the palace gardens, where tourists and visitors can obtain information on the activities in the Peace Palace through multimedia presentations.
- Exhibitions: A number of exhibitions will be held in the Atrium of The Hague City Hall in the summer of 2013. These will feature the designs submitted for the architectural competition for the Peace Palace, courtesy of The Hague Municipal Archives; ‘Women and Justice’, focusing on Bertha von Suttner*; and the activities relating to Peace and Justice carried out by international organisations in The Hague.
- Commemoration: The Carnegie Foundation will be holding an official commemoration to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Peace Palace, with music and a luncheon in the Palace, as well as the presentation of a commemoration book entitled ‘100th anniversary of the Peace Palace’ and an evening concert. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other illustrious national and international guests will be attending these celebrations.
- Conferences: The Carnegie Foundation is organising a conference on ’Andrew Carnegie’s Contribution to International Justice’. The Hague Institute for Global Justice is organising a conference on the results of a study on how reconstruction of institutions can help create a well-functioning constitutional state and proper administration in post-conflict states. This study, still ongoing, focuses on Libya and is being funded by the Municipality of The Hague as a gift and a contribution from our city towards peace and justice in the world. The study will attract attention from all over the world because the BBC will be concluding the presentation of the study with a BBC World Debate.
- Education and sport: the Carnegie Foundation will be releasing a DVD for schools, and there will be seminars for students, a ‘Peace & Justice’ musical for schools in The Hague, a Peace Concert in the Peace Palace gardens and a ‘Peace Run’ for sports lovers in cooperation with Haag Atletiek.
In short, August and September 2013 are Peace and Justice Months in The Hague! A real milestone for the city that has chosen Peace and Justice as its profile.
*Bertha von Suttner (1843-1914) was a confirmed peace activist during her lifetime. She became world-famous after her novel Die Waffen nieder! ("Lay Down Your Arms!") was published in 1889. She regarded the First Hague Peace Conference (1899) as the crowning triumph of her work. In 1905 she was the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and she attended the opening of the Peace Palace in 1913.