November 25, 2013

The Building of the Peace Palace

Randall Lesaffer, Tilburg Law Faculty; KU Leuven Faculty of Law; Tilburg University, International Victimology Institute Tilburg (INTERVICT), has published The Temple of Peace. The Hague Peace Conferences, Andrew Carnegie and the Building of the Peace Palace (1898-1913) at 140 Mededelingen van de Koninklijke Nederlandse Vereniging voor Internationaal Recht, Preadviezen 1 (2013).

The 19th-century international peace movement sprang from the reaction against the devastation and horror the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812 had wrought. It had its roots in Anglo-American nonconformist protestant circles, but quickly spread over the globe and became more pluralist and then secular. All through the century and beyond, British and American peace activists dominated the movement and set its agenda. During the later quarter of the century, the peace movement gained more political influence thanks to its alliance with the emerging discipline of international law. This was, again, particularly true for Britain, and most of all, the United States. Two major points stood out on the agenda of the ‘peace through law’ movement: disarmament and arbitration.
Whereas the movement could attain very little to nothing in relation to disarmament in the years before the Great War, the movement found allies in political circles to foster the cause of arbitration. In the United States, Britain and the Latin-American Republics, arbitration moved up the agenda of foreign policy makers and diplomats after the successful Alabama Award in 1872. The Alabama Case had shown arbitration to be an appropriate instrument to manage tactical disputes among States which wanted to avoid strategic clashes.

In 1899, the cause of ‘peace through law’ scored an unexpected success. The Hague Conference, which first had been called by the Russian government for reasons of high power politics, had – to a large extent thanks to the endeavours of the Russian international lawyer Fyodor Martens – been highjacked for the ‘peace through law’ agenda when these reasons dissipated. One of the main outcomes was the establishment of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague. In 1903, the American industrialist turned philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie, made a lavish gift to build a ‘Temple of Peace’ for the Court at The Hague. It can be said, with the benefit of hindsight, that this set the destiny of The Hague as legal capital of the world in stone.
Download the article from SSRN at the link. 

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