This summer the Peace Palace will celebrate its Centenary on August 28. The upcoming celebrations will be centered around The Hague area and will therefore not include the international community outside of The Netherlands. The 'Piece of the Palace' is a special project that enables people from all around the world to participate in the Peace Palace Centenary and to learn more about the history of the Peace Palace as well as International Law. The Project was first launched on April 10, 2013 at the University of Idaho, College of Law, in the United States of America where Judge Donoghue of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) lectured and spoke about the importance of this historic moment.
Audiences beyond The Hague will mark the Centenary of the Peace Palace throughout 2013, thanks to an initiative led by U.S. citizens called 'Piece of the Palace'. Generously supported by the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Central Michigan University and The Planethood Foundation (an initiative of former Nuremberg Prosecutor Benjamin Ferencz and his son Donald), Piece of the Palace uses the occasion of the Centenary as a 'teachable moment' in order to 'connect the dots' between the Peace Palace and the broader 'Peace Through Law' approach which characterizes The Hague Tradition and the more recently established courts in The Hague such as the International Criminal Court.
August 28, 2013 marks 100 years since the Peace Palace first opened its doors so as to provide a beautiful new home for the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) - which was intended to end war. Andrew Dickson White - head of the U.S. delegation to the 1899 Hague Peace Conference - helped convince Andrew Carnegie to donate the funds to furnish humanity with an 'outward and visible sign' for the historic achievement of the 1899 Hague Peace Conference (the PCA had been operating out of modest premises at 71 Prinsegracht, The Hague, since 1902). On August 28, 1963 - exactly 50 years after the Peace Palace opened its doors - Martin Luther King Jr. gave his celebrated 'I Have A Dream' speech at the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. "August 28, 2013 provides us with an opportunity connect the dots between these two important moments in U.S. history," said Hope Elizabeth May, Director of Piece of the Palace. "The moment is rich with memory and provides an opportunity to deepen the public understanding about the U.S. contribution to the 'Peace through Law' movement at both the domestic and the international level. This is an especially poignant moment given that the U.S. is not a member of the International Criminal Court and is helping to shape an emerging normative framework in response to the tragedy of September 11.”
'Piece of the Palace' seizes on the Centenary to educate audiences about the history of the Peace Palace and connected themes. One of the means for doing this is the Points of Light Project. This project involves an international group of 30 different communities, each of which agrees to engage in at least one educational activity connected with the Centenary and associated themes. Communities involved in the Points of Light Project include several sites in the U.S., as well as communities in Italy, Canada, Ireland, Spain, Cambodia, Japan and South Korea - to name but a few. In exchange for developing its educational activity, each Point of Light receives a box (called a 'Treasure Box') full of materials on Peace through Law themes. The materials in the Treasure Box help each Point of Light to develop and promote its educational activities.
"The Points of Light Project is inspired by the pioneers who were committed to education of all people regarding the peace through law movement. Importantly, this education was not - as it is today- confined primarily to lawyers and law students," said May.
Indeed, American educators were passionate about the first Hague Peace conferences and in 1906 the U.S. Bureau of Education established May 18 - the day on which the 1899 Hague Peace Conference opened as "Peace Day" or "Hague Day". Tens of thousands of students in public schools all over the United States participated in educational exercises focused on the new spirit of 'international brotherhood' ushered in by the Hague Peace Conferences. "Education about the Hague Peace Conferences was truly aimed at the public - including children," said May. "The very first article of the 1907 inaugural issue of the American Journal of International Law, "The Need of Popular Understanding of International Law" says it all. The Centenary provides an opportune time to return to this task of public education, especially in the U.S. - which struggles to remain true to its core values in the wake of the 'Global War on Terror’ ", said May.
The Points of Light Project involves high school students, graduate students in a number of different disciplines (including law), teachers, professors, and communities throughout the world. The project was launched on April 10, 2013, at the University of Idaho College of Law in Moscow Idaho. Christina Moreno - a law student who interned at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia worked with the International Law Students Association and the Women's Law Caucus to host a lecture on the Peace Palace by Law Professor Anastasia Telesetsky and Judge Joan Donoghue, the first female U.S. judge to sit on the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The topics that were discussed included the history behind the Peace Palace and the collaborative efforts of many, including two prominent Americans, Andrew Dickson White and Andrew Carnegie, to create a symbolic home for the Permanent Court of Arbitration. Students had the opportunity to ask Judge Donoghue about her experience working at the ICJ and the path to a careers in international law. In a pre - event survey, 22 of of 40 students responding had never heard of the Peace Palace; however almost all students knew that the United States is not a member of the International Criminal Court. “The event was a great success, not just because of the incredible turnout, but because it showed interest in the Peace Palace and International Law," added Ms. Moreno. "The attendees saw the importance of the Peace Palace in American history and the value it will have for the future.” The next Points of Light activity will occur at the University of Valladolid in Spain.
In addition to 'Points of Light', the other educational initiatives of Piece of the Palace include a student conference convened by the International Criminal Court Student Network, and a public event highlighting women peace builders which will feature 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Leymah Gbowee and Brigid Inder, Director of Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice who also serves as the Special Gender Advisor to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.
To learn more about the Points of Light Project and 'Piece of the Palace' visit: http://www.pointsoflight.nl