The Hague – Legal Capital of the World
“I am convinced that when the history of international law comes to be written centuries hence, it will be divided into two periods: the first being from the earliest times to the end of the nineteenth century, and the second beginning with the Hague Conference” (Ludwig Quidde). Over the last 125 years, The Hague has become, as they say, the legal capital of the world. The International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court and the Permanent Court of Arbitrage are based there, as is a whole list of other prominent institutions. We will visit as many as we can. And reflect on what we learned over dinner at The Hague beach, overlooking the North Sea.
Our visit to The Hague is in a different format than the other trips, as The Hague is only an hour away by train from Amsterdam. We will therefore not spend the night in The Hague, but take the train back after dinner. The date is to be determined.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations (UN). It was established in June 1945 by the Charter of the United Nations and began work in April 1946.
The seat of the Court is at the Peace Palace in The Hague (Netherlands). Of the six principal organs of the United Nations, it is the only one not located in New York (United States of America).
The Court’s role is to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by States and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized United Nations organs and specialized agencies.
The Court is composed of 15 judges, who are elected for terms of office of nine years by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council. It is assisted by a Registry, its administrative organ. Its official languages are English and French.
Andrew Carnegie was a wealthy Scottish-American steel magnate turned philanthropist. In 1903 he donated the astronomical sum of $1.5 million to the Kingdom of the Netherlands for the construction of a building to house the newly-formed Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA): the now famous Peace Palace. His condition was that it would not only house the PCA but also a legal library that would meet the highest possible standards.
In 1904 a special foundation was set up to manage the funds and the preparations of the construction. Nowadays the Carnegie Foundation receives financial support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands but remains the owner and manager of the grounds and buildings, including the Peace Palace Library.
The foundation also awards the annual Wateler Peace Prize to private individuals or institutions which have furthered the cause of peace. Some famous names among these prize winners include Lord Baden Powell, Mrs. Martin Luther King, Max van der Stoel and Peace One Day.