Peace Palace Library
The international law library

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Research guide History of International Law

The history of international law examines the evolution and development of public international law in both state practice and conceptual understanding. Since 1913 the Library has acquired a historical legal collection representing the various periods of thinking about international law, dominated by the Spanish, French or English schools. From the 16th century: Bodin, Ayala, Vitoria, the 17th century: Grotius, Gentili, Pufendorf, Zouche, and 18th century: Bynkershoek, Wolff, Vattel, and 19th century Bluntschli.

Check our Research Guide on History of International Law
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Library blog COVID-19 Flyer and Protocol for Non-residents: Visiting the Library's Premises

The Peace Palace Library implements new COVID-19 procedures for visiting the Library’s Reading Room. Registration upon visiting the Library is obligatory. Please read the flyer and protocol in advance.

The health of our guests and staff is our highest priority and we therefore ask you to respect our measures regarding COVID-19. As these rules and procedures are subject to constant monitoring, evaluation and review, the the flyer and protocol too, will be subject to ongoing monitoring and evaluation. If need be, they will be updated.

Stay healthy, stay safe!

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News and events Re-opening 22 June: Visiting the Library upon Registration

As of Monday June 22, the Library is re-opened for visitors. Your visit will be impacted by Covid-19. We kindly request you to prepare for your visit by reading the COVID-19 Flyer and Protocol first.

Registration for each visit will be compulsory. A maximum of 30 people will be allowed to visit the Library on a daily basis. The Reading Room will be open on workdays from 10.00-17.00 hrs. Studying, returning and borrowing books is possible during time slots only. Please bring your own laptop with you and a valid ID card. There are no public computers available in the Reading Room.

We look forward to welcoming you again soon!

Kind regards, PPL Staff

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Bertha von Suttner (1843-1914)

Bertha von Suttner was a 19th century author, peace activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate from Austria. Her most famous work, the anti-war novel titled ‘Die Waffen Nieder’, became an international bestseller. Upon the success of her novel, Von Suttner quickly rose to prominence within the international peace movement that was gaining ground in Europe and in the United States of America. She also played a significant role in helping the Peace Palace come in to existence.

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The Nuremberg Trials Legacy

Picture: the archives of the International Military Tribunal on their way to the International Court of Justice, arriving at the Peace Palace, 14 March 1950.

The Nuremberg Trials mark an important moment in the history of international law. Individual war criminals, prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of Nazi-Germany, were held responsible and indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity and brought to justice before an international tribunal. The Nuremberg Trials provided a legal framework on which thereafter prosecution of international crimes was built and thus laid the foundation for international criminal law to emerge as a modern discipline.

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Peace Palace Library showcase

  • Idris, M., War for Peace: Genealogies of a Violent Ideal in Western and Islamic Thought, New York, NY, Oxford University Press, 2019.

  • READ HUM 060 507

  • May, L. (ed.), The Cambridge Handbook of the Just War, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2018.

  • 536 C 23

  • 526 B 31

  • Gozzi, G., Rights and Civilizations: A History and Philosophy of International Law, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2019.

You can find the showcase in our Reading Room.