August 28 is a special day for the Peace Palace as this day is our Anniversary! Today, 28 August 2015, it is 102 years ago that the opening ceremony of the Peace Palace took place. After long preparations, and in contrast to the elaborate ceremony for the setting of the foundation stone, the opening ceremony of the Peace Palace was a relatively modest affair. It was initially scheduled for 29 August, but was moved up one day earlier at the request of Queen Wilhelmina of The Netherlands.
28 August is also the anniversary of the death of Hugo Grotius. Grotius, who died in 1645, is recognized as the founder of the vision of International Law of which the Permanent Court of Arbitration is an expression. In his autobiography, Andrew Dickson White, who led the U.S. delegation to the 1899 Hague Peace Conference which established the Permanent Court of Arbitration, wrote 'Our work here, at the end of the nineteenth century, is the direct result of Grotius' work at the end of the 17th century'.
On 28 August 1913, a total of about five hundred guests were invited for the opening ceremony. Among the guests were Queen Wilhelmina, Queen Mother Emma, Prince Hendrik, and Andrew Carnegie and his wife Louise, Bertha von Suttner and Louis Cordonnier. The other guests were Dutch government officials, members of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, and several special guests from abroad. At the ceremony, luminaries such as Tobias Asser and William Stead were sorely missed. The former had died only a month earlier, and the latter was tragically killed in the sinking of the Titanic in April of 1912.
On the occasion, Abraham Pieter Cornelis van Karnebeek, former Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chairman of the Board of the Carnegie Foundation, emphasized that the Peace Palace would not only be 'the workplace where people would endeavour towards the reign of Peace through Law', but also 'a symbol' for everyone who believed in the ideal 'of civilization, that there would be no more wars between the Nations'.
In that same spirit we, the people of Peace Palace, continue to strive for Peace. Every day!