On Saturday 29 March, the Netherlands celebrated the 200-year anniversary of the 1814 Dutch constitution, the oldest constitution in the world after the American constitution. The National Committee for the Bicentenary of the Kingdom marked this anniversary as the perfect occasion to organise its second national event, the Constitution Festival.
The Hague, also known as the International City of Peace and Justice, provided the setting for this event called the Constitution Festival. Government buildings normally off limits to the public, like the Catshuis and Trêveszaal, opened their doors especially for this occasion. The Peace Palace Library also participated in this event with an interactive tour explaining the relationship between the Dutch constitution and international law.
The interactive tour started with a lecture on the importance of the articles 90, 93 and 94 of the Dutch constitution, international law and the role of the Peace Palace (Library) in this. People could participate in an exercise on fundamental rights. They were asked to recognise fundamental rights and the Dutch constitution was used as an example. But are fundamental rights respected everywhere? Therefore we also talked about constitutions from other countries. For example the constitution of the Russian Federation and the constitution of South Africa.
The tour continued in the historical reading room of the Peace Palace Library where people could have a look at the most important works of Hugo Grotius. Hugo Grotius was a famous jurist in the Dutch Republic and laid the foundations for international law. His famous work from 1625, De Jure Belli Ac Pacis (On the Laws of War and Peace) and his work from 1609, Mare Liberum (The Free Sea), were shown during the Constitution Festival at the Peace Palace Library.
There was a special film for children about Hugo Grotius, his famous bookcase used in his escape from captivity, and a film about the Peace Palace.
Overall, it was a very interesting and successful day which provided the visitors with an impression of the work done at the Peace Palace Library.