Peace Palace

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For the Peace Palace in Cambodia, see Peace Palace, Phnom Penh.
Peace Palace
Dutch: Vredespaleis
International Court of Justice.jpg
The Peace Palace, pictured in March 2006
General information
Architectural style Neo-Renaissance
Town or city The Hague
Country Netherlands
Coordinates 52°05′12″N 4°17′44″E / 52.0866°N 4.2955°E / 52.0866; 4.2955
Current tenants Permanent Court of Arbitration and International Court of Justice
Groundbreaking 1907
Opened 28 August 1913
Cost US$1.5 million ($40,000,000, adjusted for inflation)
Owner Carnegie Foundation (Netherlands)
Affiliation United Nations
Design and construction
Architect Louis M. Cordonnier
Awards and prizes European Heritage Label
Main hall of the Peace Palace. The background is the entrance of the Courtroom of the International Court of Justice
Inside the Peace Palace
The Visitors Centre of the Peace Palace was built in 2012 and includes a permanent exhibition and short film about the institutions housed in the palace.
People in the Visitors Centre learn about the history of the Peace Palace as well as the institutions housed in the palace. In the Visitors Centre a permanent exhibition and a short film are shown.
Carnegie and the original map of the Peace Palace
Vase given by Russia

The Peace Palace (Dutch: Vredespaleis; pronounced [ˈvreːdəspaˌlɛis]) is an international law administrative building in The Hague, the Netherlands. It houses the International Court of Justice (which is the principal judicial body of the United Nations), the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the Hague Academy of International Law and the Peace Palace Library. The Palace officially opened on 28 August 1913, and was originally built to provide a home for the Permanent Court of Arbitration, a court created to end war by the Hague Convention of 1899. Andrew Dickson White, whose efforts were instrumental in creating the court, secured from his friend American steel magnate Andrew Carnegie US$1.5 million ($40,000,000, adjusted for inflation) to build the Peace Palace.

The European Heritage Label was awarded to the Peace Palace on 8 April 2014.


The Peace Palace has been occupied at different times by a number of organisations:

  • Permanent Court of Arbitration (1913–present) The original occupant for which the Peace Palace was constructed. From 1901 until the opening of the Palace in 1913, the Permanent Court of Arbitration was housed at Prinsegracht 71 in The Hague.
  • Permanent Court of International Justice (1922–1946) and its successor the International Court of Justice (1946–present). In 1922 the Permanent Court of International Justice of the League of Nations was added to the occupants. This meant the Library was forced to move to an annex building, and the Permanent Court of Arbitration was moved to the front left of the building. In 1946, when the United Nations replaced the League of Nations, the International Court of Justice was established as the UN's principal judicial organ.
  • Peace Palace Library of International Law (1913–present). Being the original vision of Carnegie, the library grew quickly to house the best collection of material on international law. Although this stature is well in the past, the library still contains some original classical works, as the original copies of Hugo Grotius' works on peace and law and Erasmus' Querela Pacis.
  • The Carnegie Stichting (1913–present)
  • The Hague Academy of International Law (1923–present). Established in 1914, strongly advocated by Tobias Michael Carel Asser. Funds for the Academy came from another peace project by Andrew Carnegie, namely the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, established in 1910.

Other international courts in The Hague, the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Court are separate organizations, located elsewhere in The Hague.


The idea of the Palace started from a discussion in 1900 between the Russian diplomat Friedrich Martens and American diplomat White over providing a home for the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA). White contacted Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie had his reservations, and at first was only interested in donating money for the establishment of a library of international law. White, however, was able to convince Carnegie, and in 1903 Carnegie agreed to donate the US$1.5 million ($40,000,000, adjusted for inflation) needed to house the court as well as to endow it with a library of international law. White described his idea to Carnegie:

"A temple of peace where the doors are open, in contrast to the Janus-temple, in times of peace and closed in cases of war (…..) as a worthy testimony of the people that, after many long centuries finally a court that has thrown open its doors for the peaceful settlement of differences between peoples".

Were such a fabric to be created, men would make pilgrimages from all parts of the civilized world to see it. It would become a sort of holy place, prized and revered by thinking men throughout the world, and to which, in any danger of war between any two countries, the minds of men would turn naturally and normally. The main difficulty now is that the people of the various nations do not really know what was done for them by the Conference; but such a building would make them know it. It would be an "outward and visible sign" of the Court, which would make its actual, tangible existence known to the ends of the earth"

Andrew Dickson White to Andrew Carnegie, 5 August 1902

At first Carnegie simply wanted to donate the money directly to the Dutch Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands for the building of the palace, but legal problems prohibited this, and in November 1903 the Carnegie Stichting was founded to manage the construction, ownership, and maintenance of the Palace. This foundation is still responsible for these issues.


To find a suitable design, the foundation called for an open international competition. The winning design, set in the Neo-Renaissance style, was submitted by French architect Louis M. Cordonnier. To build within budget, Cordonnier and his Dutch associate Van der Steur adjusted the design. The palace initially had two big bell towers in front and two small ones in the back. Only one big tower and one small tower remained in the final building. Also to save money, the separate library building from the winning design was incorporated into the Palace itself.

The Palace is filled with many gifts of the different nations who attended the Second Hague Conference as a sign of their support. Among the gifts are a 3.2-tonne (3.1-long-ton; 3.5-short-ton) vase from Russia, doors from Belgium, marble from Italy, a fountain from Denmark, wall carpets from Japan, the clock for the clock tower from Switzerland, Persian rugs from Iran and wood from Indonesia and the United States of America.

In 1907 the first stone was symbolically placed during the Second Hague Conference. The construction began some months later and was completed with an inauguration ceremony on 28 August 1913, attended by Andrew Carnegie, among others.

In 2007, Queen Beatrix opened the new building for the Peace Palace Library of International Law, housing the entire catalogue of the library, a lecture hall and a new reading room in the bridge to the main building of the Peace Palace. Like the new Academy Hall, the library was designed by architects Michael Wilford and Manuel Schupp. A Visitors Centre was added to the Peace Palace in 2012, which is also designed by Michael Wilford. [1]


In 1908, Thomas Hayton Mawson won a competition to design the grounds. Because of budget constraints, he also had to discard design elements: mountains and sculptures. He made use of a natural watercourse on the site.

In 1999 an eternal peace flame was installed in front of its gates.


The palace also features a number of statues, busts and portraits of prominent peace campaigners from around the world and of all eras.


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]