For centuries violent wars had raged in Europe. Harvests were destroyed, houses were plundered, families torn apart. Society was unsettled time and again. The raw images of the battlefield that through the invention of photography now also reached the home front, did serious damage to the idea that war was essential for defending the glory of king and country. And so, in the course of the 19th century, the peace ideal blossomed as never before. The political tensions and resulting threat of war on the threshold of the 20th century only added to the popularity of the spreading peace movement. Throughout Europe and America peace organizations were founded, inspired by the ideas of famous writers and pacifists such as Leo Tolstoy, Bertha von Suttner and Alfred Nobel.
The initiative of Czar Nicholas II to organize an international peace conference came at exactly the right moment. During the First Hague Peace Conference of 1899, 26 countries came together to speak about disarmament and about the possibility of international jurisdiction, which led to the establishment of the Permanent Court of Arbitration. In 1907 a second peace conference was organized in The Hague, in which 44 countries participated.
During this Second Peace Conference, the foundation stone of the Peace Palace was laid. The building was not only intended to house the Permanent Court of Arbitration, it was also supposed to house the largest library in the field of international law and peace. In the presence of the Dutch Royal Family, financier Andrew Carnegie and an international group of jurists, politicians and pacifists, the key to the Peace Palace was handed over on 28 August 1913.
In addition to the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the Peace Palace now houses the United Nations International Court of Justice, the Hague Academy of International Law and the Peace Palace Library. The Carnegie Foundation is the owner and manager of the Peace Palace.
The Palace still embodies the decades-old dream of world peace and the Carnegie Foundation, on a daily basis, works towards a better world by convening, educating and inspiring people worldwide.