On Monday, March 20, the Peace Palace Library and the Carnegie Foundation organized the first book launch of this year. ‘ The Art of Making Peace; Lessons learned from the Peace Treaties’  holds special meaning to us as it is a reflection of an international conference that took place during the Peace Palace Centenary in 2013. The volume offers critical reflections by the leading experts of this conference on important peace agreements such as the Treaty of Versailles of 1919, the mother of all peace treaties, as well as some more recent examples such as the Dayton Peace Agreement and the Sudan Agreement. In addition, the situations which arose in relation to the wars between Iran and Iraq and between Kuwait and Iraq are also discussed.

Lastly this publication examines the role of judicial settlement by the International Court of Justice or the Permanent Court of Arbitration, vis-a-vis the instrument of political mediation between states with the help of a third party.

Mr. Steven van Hoogstraten, editor of the book and former General-Director of the Carnegie Foundation, gave a formal speech and stated that the intriguing Peace Treaty of Versailles, the oldest treaty studied in the book, included an article that would come to hold special meaning for the growth of The Hague as the city of peace and justice. Article 14 of the Treaty of Versailles stated that the Council of the yet to be created ‘ League of Nations’ would prepare a draft for a Permanent Court of International Justice. ‘The World was ready for a standing and full-time International Court of independent judges as a complement to and also an improvement of the system of arbitration which had been introduced by the Hague Peace Conferences of 1899 and 1907. Mr. van Hoogstraten further stated that the League of Nations chose The Hague as the seat of the Court and the premises of the Peace Palace became the ‘ official home’  of the Permanent Court of International Justice (PCIJ) on the basis of an agreement in 1922 where the Carnegie Foundation was the contracting party.

It was very fitting for this reason that the first copy of ‘ The Art of Making Peace’ was presented to the Vice-President of the International Court of Justice , the successor of the Permanent Court of International Justice. Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf gladly accepted the book on behalf of the ICJ and stated that it can offer guidance and shed light on future peace agreements. Judge Yusuf, who is from Somalia, explained that in the African tradition of oral storytelling, stories of peacemaking between different people often take place during night time conversations around the campfire. He further emphasized that international law can bridge a gap between different legal cultures, between people who look different and have different customs.

The book launch was followed by the annual Shabtai Rosenne Memorial Lecture delivered this year by Mr. Tal Becker, legal advisor at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. H.E. Ambassador Andreas Mavroyiannis gave a spontaneous response to Mr. Becker’s Lecture. Other discussants were H.E. Judge Julia Sebutinde of the ICJ and Professor Malcolm Shaw, of the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law, at the University of Cambridge.

Below you can find the speech of Mr. Steven van Hoogstraten, editor of ‘The Art of Making Peace’ and former General-Director of the Carnegie Foundation.

Presentation book Art of Peace Making

Mr Vice President of the ICJ, your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, friends,

We are very happy with your presence here this afternoon, on a day filled with action in the Peace Palace.   Finally we are able to present our book on the Art of Peace Making, with " Lessons Learned" as its subtitle. If the main title “The Art of Peace Making” is already a subject of universal dimension, the subtitle of Lessons Learned is nothing less than a formidable task. To break the news to you straightaway, we did not find a basically sound concept for restoring peace. Each conflict has a different history and context, each post conflict situation is therefore unique.  But there are central questions, that return to the scene every time and I can mention a few. Should the winning side in a conflict simply dictate the terms?  Or should there be a negotiation between all sides involved aimed at ending the conflict and restoring an order without conflict. Is a peace agreement an instrument to end a conflict, or does it bring the key elements for renewed state building ?  How can one best promote true reconciliation amongst former enemies?  What can be the role of international mediation to come to a first understanding.  Are alleged war criminals excluded from the negotiations, or should an accommodation be found which allows for including them? Is self-determination always the answer after peace has been restored ?  And finally, is reparation of the damage done central to a peace arrangement, or should damage restoration have a lesser, more relative importance. The answers are in practice never easy, not for the negotiators and not from a moral standpoint.  And the answers are certainly not constant.

This book was prepared on the basis of a conference which crowned the Centenary of the Peace Palace in September 2013. The conference, chaired by former Foreign Affairs Minister and NATO Secretary-General, Mr. Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, addressed the essential question what one may learn from international peace treaties. There were 3 selected cases of peace treaties from different regions of the world on the menu.  Versailles or the end of the First World War in 1919, Dayton or the end to the war in the former Yugoslavia in 1995, and the Sudan as the end to the longest and bloodiest civil war in the Heart of Africa in 2005. And as a 4th case, we decided to look into the situation that parties are simply unable to talk and come to a peace deal, which meant that the United Nations has to step in as a the peace maker. This was the case after the bitter war between Iran and Iraq (1980-88). We found that every case has characteristics which make it stand out. Each conflict comes to its own conclusion -  an official truce, a factual state of non-war, a solemn declaration or a peace arrangement.

The Treaty of Versailles of 1919 was the oldest treaty we asked speakers to comment upon. At the time, this treaty was extremely difficult to negotiate by the Western victorious parties after World War One and - once in force - it has consequently  been intensely criticized by numerous politicians and academics as being too harsh on the losing side of the Great War. Let us say that this point was emphatically proved by History.  The Treaty of Versailles was basically depicted at our conference as the example how not to do it.

But there is something more to this extensive and intriguing Peace treaty which was negotiated for months on end at the highest level. One of the articles meant much for the further growth of The Hague as a City of International Justice. Article 14 of the Treaty of Versailles stated that the Council of the to be created “League of Nations”  would prepare a draft for a Permanent Court of International Justice (PCIJ).  The world was ready for a standing and full time International Court of independent judges as a complement to – and also an improvement of -  the system of arbitration which had been introduced by the Hague Peace Conferences of 1899 and 1907. Arbitration was only a voluntary instrument, and the new Court with its 11 Judges came a step closer to an institutional arrangement with more binding character. The League of Nations chose The Hague as the seat of the Court, and the premises of this Peace Palace became the housing of the PCIJ on the basis of an agreement in 1922 where the Carnegie Foundation was the contracting party.

The dedication of the Peace Palace to the maxim “Peace through Law” could not be better expressed than through the words and deeds of the international judges. And since World War 2, this dedication has been shown for 70 years now by the International Court of Justice, and on an ever continuing basis by the arbiters of the PCA.

Also on a second point, one may say that the treaty of Versailles has created shadows which reach into today’s world in The Hague. In its famous article 227, the allied parties to the Treaty indicted the German Emperor Wilhelm II ( in French “mettent en accusation publique”) in order that he be judged – in French – “pour offense suprême contre la morale international et l’autorité sacrée des traités”.  A special Tribunal of five judges of the allied parties would be charged with this case and they would be fully free to define the sanction to be imposed.  I presume we all know that by the end of the Great War, Emperor Wilhelm II fled to this country The Netherlands , abdicated as the Emperor in the process, and was given asylum here. The Netherlands government then refused to extradite this former Emperor to the Allied Forces when so requested in 1920, for the reason – inter alia - that a neutral state was not obliged to cooperate with the allied nations.  That did not go down very well with the Allies, but the case was not pursued much further due to general war fatigue.

But the point is, the principle of individual accountability, so central to the work of ICC and the ICTY, was already there in that Treaty.  With all the criticism one may have, criticism so eloquently set out in this book, this innovation was highly remarkable.

There is a parallel here with the Peace Agreement of Dayton, as the parties agreed to cooperate with the prosecution and judgment of war criminals from the war in Yugoslavia.  Strikingly, the Dayton Agreement was signed by Serbian President Slobodan Milošević, who later was indicted by the ICTY’s Prosecutor Louise Arbour to be held to account for war crimes. I remember standing outside the Scheveningen Prison when the helicopter with the arrested Milošević flew over to land on the courtyard, together with 100-s of onlookers. It felt as a historic moment for international justice in The Hague. Due to his unexpected death in prison in 2006, the trial could unfortunately not be completed. But most of the finished trials of the ICTY, created by the UN Security Council, have had a strong effect on the feeling that justice has been done. And the other two great names of the conflict are still in the legal process and awaiting their final sentences.

The Dayton Peace Agreement not only defines the international borders but it contains the full text of the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in fact it imposed the Constitution on the broken, war torn land. In that sense, Dayton is far more than a simple “end of conflict”. Still, 20 years after its conclusion, it leaves many observers disappointed, and the situation is referred to by some as “a frozen conflict in a failed state “. Attempts are even being made – notably in the European camp – to have the treaty changed.  Bosnia is seeking EU membership, with a first sign of recognition by the EU institutions in Brussels in September 2016. At the same time one of its two Entities ( the Republika Srpska) has announced a referendum for independence in 2018. This potential break away would be against the heart and against the provisions of the Dayton agreement. The well-known former Bosnian Foreign M inister Sacirbey called Dayton “at best, a lost opportunity; at worst it was just a cease fire”[1].

I come back to where I started. The examples of peace arrangements we have chosen could of course be supplemented with many others. These other cases may be – and should be -  the subject of further studies. Who has forgotten about the war in Vietnam and the accords of Paris of 1973, about the agreements of Oslo for the Middle East (1993), or about the truce hammered out in Sri Lanka. What elements were decisive for the recent peace-deal in Colombia, the one in Minsk calming the spirits in the Ukraine, and which elements will be decisive for peace to be regained in Syria ?  I all these situations, the art of finding a peace deal is top of the list. All other matters come second.

This book is a co-production of the Law Faculty of the University of Leiden, the Carnegie Foundation and of Publisher BRILL. It was edited by the team of 4, whose names are on the cover. The real substance was developed  by the experts who agreed to present their views at the conference, like Sir Adam Roberts from the UK on Versailles, or Barney Afako from Africa on the Sudan, dr. Abi Williams from the USA on Dayton, or Damchid Momtaz , member of the Curatorium of the Hague Academy,  on the Iran Iraq war, to name our key performers.  Enough interesting moments at the conference in The Hague, which  built on the day on the historic Treaty of Utrecht of 1713, organized by the University of Utrecht. In that sense this conference was a very fitting tribute to the work of the Peace Palace in its continuing quest for world peace and the reign of the rule of law.

Now it is my pleasure to hand the first copy of the book to Vice-President Yusuf, and I will do so together with the members of the team of Editors.

[1] Bosnia’s bitter, flawed peace deal, 20 years on. The Guardian, 10 November 2015.

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Group Photo by Mr. Kim Vermaat

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