By Steven van Hoogstraten, General Director (Carnegie Foundation)
On the 28th of August 2013 the Peace Palace will celebrate its 100th anniversary. This is an important moment for us that we would like to share with you. During the last century, the PeacePalace has become a symbol of the universal strive for peace and justice, and we are still very proud to be the defenders of this ideal. The five institutions in the PeacePalace join their efforts in this regard: the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the International Court of Justice, the Peace Palace Library, the HagueAcademy of International Law and the Carnegie Foundation. Peace through law was the dominant theme in 1913, and it very much is the same in 2013.
Everywhere in the building we are called upon duty by the works of art that recall the importance of the harmony that peace and justice bring. The refined art nouveau craftsmanship of the interior demonstrates in an exemplary way how important the work of man is in the pursuit of this universal ideal. The international character of the works of art, many of which are donations by countries that support this ideal, as well as the diversity among the people that come here, demonstrate how international to the core this building is. It is therefore not surprising that this official national monument has also been nominated for the European cultural heritage label. And heritage is something to treasure and to share. The newly opened Visitors Centre gives tourists from all over the world, in nine different languages, the possibility to learn about the history of the PeacePalace, the ICJ and the PCA. There they can discover the important role of the peace movements, how the Courts operate but also how The Hague became the legal capital of the world.
However, to be considered “heritage” is also a challenge, as one should not dismiss its role today. As is the case with all processes within society, change is a continuum, and adaptation to new circumstances often required. The last 100 years have seen many changes in international relations and these are reflected in the large number of legal instruments developed in international law. The need to continuously improve our efforts is also reflected in the program of activities that we are organizing this summer together with the municipality of The Hague and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in which the topic will be both the history and the future of our activities. On the 28th of August we hope to hear a speech by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the rule of law in the world. That day a bronze bust of Bertha von Suttner, leader of the European Peace Movement in the late 19th and early 20th century, will be unveiled and a book on the first century of the PeacePalace will be presented.
In September, we will organize a debate on the Future of International Justice, a conference on Peace Philanthropy and together with the universities of Utrecht and Leiden, a two day symposium called Lessons learned from the making of peace treaties. On the 9th of September, a reflective moment is at the heart of an interreligious debate. Furthermore, a number of cultural activities will be organized on the premises of the PeacePalace and in the city, such as a series of concerts, a musical by local high school students and a live streamed concert by Peace One Day on the international day of peace, 21 September. So far, several embassies have expressed an interest to organize an event in order to celebrate the role of the PeacePalace. And in autumn, the ICJ and the PCA will both run a conference.
On our website www.peacepalace.nl you will find the updated calendar of all events organized to celebrate our centenary.
Through these activities we hope to obtain a stronger sense of awareness about the important role that the PeacePalace can play in today’s world. A role which is not limited to international law, but which embraces the general hopes and aspirations of a more peaceful world.