Posted by: conferencebay | June 20, 2008

Great Moments in Conference History: The Hague Conferences and the Unending Cause for World Peace

A political victory, a rise in rents, the recovery of your sick, or return of your absent friend, or some other quite external event, raises your spirits, and you think good days are preparing for you. Do not believe it. Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Peace Palace, the Hague, Netherlands

Over a century ago, on a summer such as this, the cause for world peace and justice was first taken up at an international conference. The growth of institutions and values that strive to protect civilians, regulate conflict, and ensure human security today, can be traced to last century’s efforts in The Hague.

Initiated by Czar Nicholas II of Russia, and hosted by Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, the First International Peace Conference was born in the Hague in May,1899.. It was a conference convened not to settle an existing war, but to focus on building lasting world peace. The Second Hague International Peace conference was held in 1907. These conferences made historic advances in the development of international law and institutions.

More recently, the United Nations declared 1989 – 99 the UN Decade of International Law. The origins of this UN Decade can be traced to joint conferences in the summer of 1989, also at The Hague, which gathered non-governmental organizations, and a group of member states. The desirability of a Third Hague Peace Conference was written into the original UN resolution, as well as annual UN General Assembly reports and resolutions documenting the fulfilling of the peace goals of the Decade.

On the treshold of the 21st Century, the campaign of The Hague Appeal for Peace was highlighted by a major international citizens’ peace conference held May 11-16, 1999 in The Hague on the 100th year of the First Hague Conferences. Gathering some 10,000 participants including world leaders, Peace Nobel Prize Laureates and activists from across the globe, the conference developed The Hague Conference Agenda for Peace in the 21st Century.

To this day, we are witnesses of how the road to lasitng peace is a long, lonely one. But we will remember that these conferences opened up a venue in which different elements of civil society are able to exchange ideas, develop global linkages, and strengthen their capacity to achieve the main goals for lasting world peace. And that was all because one summer, a band of thoughtful, well-meaning people, has set forth the momentum in the First Hague Peace Conferences.

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