For centuries, continents were torn apart by wars. Among others, the raw images of the battlefield which now reached the home front thanks to the invention of photography, diminished the belief that war was essential to the glory of king and country. Thus, during the 19th century, the ideal of peace flourished as never before. The political tensions and consequent threat of war on the threshold of the 20th century further fueled the popularity of the increasingly widespread 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.
In 1899, at the initiative of the Russian Czar Nicholas II, 26 countries gathered to discuss disarmament, international jurisdiction and arbitration. A result of this “First Hague Peace Conference” was the establishment of the Permanent Court of Arbitration and the Peace Palace. In 1907, the “Second Hague Peace Conference” was organized 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.