Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Contemporary Philanthropy for International Justice in The Hague

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By Steven van Hoogstraten, Carnegie Foundation, General Director.

In September 2013, the International Network of Museums for Peace (INMP) and the Carnegie Foundation organized a two days international symposium on peace philanthropy. The aim of this symposium was to highlight contemporary examples of peace philanthropy and to identify the role of modern philanthropists for world issues like health, justice and environmental protection. In so doing the conference paved the way for new projects to be developed. One of these projects is the long standing wish for a Peace Museum in The Hague, a pluriform showcase where academic and cultural visions of peace can collide. But also other and parallel ideas exist that aim at a dialogue in our field of expertise, and at joining the forces that make The Hague an international city of peace and justice. True and constructive dialogue is only possible if there is room for reflection, for new ideas and for well formulated critique. To put it in a different language, when UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon recently called The Hague “the world’s legal capital, the epicenter of justice and accountability”, he confirmed our mandate but at the same time challenged us to live up to this high standard. It is in the pursuit of this standard, that I suggest that we develop some new ground. This would mean that we do not limit our attention to a deepening of the classical and institutional notions of international law but that we widen our scope to include those political and legal themes that are of utmost importance for the development of a just civil society.

Now that the first century of the Peace Palace is behind us, time has come for coordinated efforts in The Hague to find the eyes and ears of the philanthropic world, a world eager to invest money in the public arena for good causes. In order to do this credibly, The Hague’s institutions must show the ambition to be at the leading edge of developing new concepts for global justice and finding alternative ways for dispute resolution. Not every difficult issue can be settled by finding the right page of the law book. I refer to disputes within states, disputes about natural resources, about food and water, or cultural issues. As I see it, The Hague should not be limited to be a fine judicial machine composed of international courts and tribunals, a machine which produces positive outcomes in conflicts by using the relevance of international law. The Hague should also be the place where international legal concepts are being critically reviewed, and where the policies behind the legal rules are explored and brought up to date. In this context I am tempted to think of questions like: “What does global justice mean for the response to threats from narcotic drugs, or from corruption? “; ”How can an international justice system be created which is accessible for other entities than states ? “, and ”Is it wise for the legitimacy of the ICC to try to investigate matters in countries who are not on the list of ratifications?”.

A network institution like the Hague Academic Coalition (HAC) could hold the umbrella for akind of “Hague Programme on International Justice”, in which all international organizations are partners, in cooperation with the Hague Institute for Global Justice. I have to make clear at this point that developing this type of activities, is not necessarily the first task of my Foundation as we are so tied to the well-being of the Peace Palace and its important institutions. But the Carnegie Foundation could easily take the role of facilitator/convener for the organizations in The Hague which would like to be part of such an endeavor. Even if this has not been the main focus of our activities, it is an aspect that could be developed in the near future. The Hague – as the world’s legal capital – has an apparent need to develop initiatives that promote the cohesion among its institutions and inhabitants, either local or international. A true cohesion, thus both academic and cultural, could be a very sustainable answer to this need. Our common Hague denominator is after all that each and every institution is related to the promotion of international peace and justice, both in its scope of daily work, and in the more idealistic perspective on the longer term.

One aspect that definitely might attract the attention of the philanthropists is the focus on social justice by outreach activities to the different target groups within our civil society. As far as the daily practice of the institutions in the Peace Palace is concerned, the existence of a general public audience does not have a great impact. Clearly the emphasis is on governments seeking a solution, according to “peace through law”. But public support is a factor which cannot be denied. This is true for instance where peace treaties are concerned, but also counts for the overall implementation of international justice. For me, it goes without saying that in The Hague we work for a maximum impact of international justice , and take these and other innovative trends into consideration. Fortunately important work on the innovation of justice is being done by the Hague Institute for the internationalization of Law (HiiL).

When looking back to the beginning of the development of the Hague as a city of international law, early 1900, the first thing we see is this collaboration between International organizations and philanthropists. It was the philanthropy of steelmaker Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) that made the creation of the Peace Palace possible in the first place. Carnegie was the classical case of the bell boy who became a millionaire. Born in Scotland, he emigrated to the USA in 1848 where he became over time the most efficient American steel producer. At the age of 60 he sold his business interests to become a philanthropist. In his view the accumulated private wealth of people like himself should serve the public good. Carnegie was passionate about public education and an idealist of international peace. He believed strongly in the then rather novel idea of arbitration as a means to settle international disputes. Today, this philanthropic approach of Carnegie is being kept alive by an international network of Carnegie inspired organizations, part of which is the Carnegie Foundation in the Netherlands. Important organizations are the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, and the 4 UK based Carnegie Institutions in Dumfernline, including the Trust for the Universities of Scotland. One of their ways of rewarding contemporary heroes of private giving is by presenting biannual awards, the so-called Carnegie Medals of Philanthropy. In October 2013, this special medal was handed to Sir Tom Hunter, the Scotsman who started his career with the selling of sports shoes from the back of a van, and once he made his fortune, became a great advocate of “giving back “. By motivating others to join him, he became a catalyst for the changes in contemporary Scotland. Evenly rewarded was her Highness Sheika Moza bin Nasser, Sheika of Qatar, for her immense support for the cause of education, peace and social reform through the Qatar Foundation founded in 1995. Another awardee, the inventor of E bay Pierre Omidyar, held an impressive talk on how empowering the internet has become for the average citizen. In his view, philanthropy should concentrate on investments with a high potential and with some risks, as opposed to safe grants for public causes which would just be spent. Receivers in the past included the great names like Ted Turner, George Soros, Michael Bloomberg, the Gates family and the Rockefeller family.

The point of my remarks is that nowadays there still is a lot of private money being destined forpublic causes. The Hague’s institutions should be aware of this, and could present their activitiesin such a way so as to become eligible for funding. In essence, I hope that we can find our placeat the table of international good causes. What we are engaged in here in The Hague, certainly merits the international philanthropists attention and sympathy.

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