Carnegieplein 2, 2517 KJ, The Hague
The Peace Palace, opened in 1913, can be considered a world cross-roads of memories of peace and justice. At the brink of the First World War, steel magnate Andrew Carnegie invested in lasting international legal institutions.
“The man who dies rich dies disgraced”
– Andrew Carnegie
Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) had grown up in an impoverished weavers’ family. As a Scottish-American immigrant he became a steel industrialist and a multi-millionaire. In his book The Gospel of Wealth (1889) he expounded a new vision of peace philanthropy as an investment in education. Thus he financed almost 3000 libraries, as well as schools, concert halls and other institutions. In 1903 he wrote out a 1,5 million dollar cheque for building this ‘Temple of Peace’ in The Hague.
The Visitors’ Centre at the gate shows the motives and backgrounds of the ‘Gift of Carnegie’, with film images of the opening ceremony on 28 August 1913. The permanent exhibition also depicts the functioning of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the Permanent Court of International Justice (established in 1921, since 1945 part of the United Nations system), and the range of international legal institutions that gave The Hague its reputation as the ‘World Legal Capital’ (former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali).
The Peace Palace library contains the oldest and most important collections for the study of international law and ideals of world peace. Closely connected to the courts, the Hague Academy of International Law serves as a world centre for peace education. Nowadays, yearly 600 students take part in the summer courses. In the spirit of Carnegie, in particular young men and women from developing countries are enabled to take part through private sponsoring. Thus future leaders are familiarised with procedures of peaceful conflict settlement, and gain experience with informal peace diplomacy.
The Peace Palace is nominated for the European Heritage Label of 2014 as a site of particular symbolic and educational value. Commemorations and celebrations continue both within and outside the building. At the Carnegieplein we find the World Flame of Peace and the Bench of Peace (written in all languages of the UN), as well as an inter-religious monument for the victims of the Second World War.
The Peace Pole and the Women’s Peace Watch sign recall the movement for nuclear disarmament in the 1980s. Here, demonstrations and manifestations for causes of peace and justice all over the world are regularly held.