The Peace Palace Library, the international law library The Peace Palace Library is the international law library serving the international legal community. The Library is one of the oldest and most prestigious libraries specialized in international law. Its principal objective is to service the institutions that reside in the Peace Palace, including the International Court of Justice, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, and the Hague Academy of International Law. But the Library is equally open to employees of all other international legal institutions inThe Hague, as well as to all scholars and students of international law.
Based in The Hague, the international city for Peace and Justice, the Library plays a essential role in the functioning of international law and is recognised within the community for its excellent legal information services. The Library's extensive collection covers international public and private law, foreign and comparative law, war and peace issues. The Library is renowned for its precious Hugo Grotius and Peace Movement collections. Academia, legal research institutes, international tribunals and law firms: anyone with an interest in international law is welcome to visit the Peace Palace Library. Upholding the ideal of 'Peace through Law', the Library is committed to achieving peace by facilitating the important work being done by the community: collecting, delivering, and disseminating customized, high-value knowledge of international law.
Recognizing the postion of library and information services and cultural heritage within the UN 2030 Development Agenda, the Library furthermore is endorsing the Sustainable Development Goals (Key Initiative 4.1). The Peace Palace Library is part of the Carnegie Foundation, responsible for the maintenance of the Peace Palace, The Hague.
Anyone with an interest in international law is welcome to come to the Peace Palace Library and make use of the Library’s extensive collection. It is required to register in advance and to acquire a day- or year-membership. Our research guides, and our highly detailed catalogue, can also be used by anyone in the world to familiarize themselves with a certain topic and to find the relevant literature. The catalogue is especially useful for this purpose, since almost all publications on international law are included in it and classified in detail according to their subject.
The idea to set up a library on behalf of the Permanent Court of Abitration (PCA) had led Carnegie to become involved in the project. He wished to provide the Court with a “Standard Library of International Law” and at the opening of the Palace in August 1913 this was exactly what was offered. However, within ten years the Permanent Court of International Justice (succeeded, in 1946, by the International Court of Justice) was given a seat in the Palace, followed in 1923 by the Hague Academy of International Law. Neither the architects nor the Board had anticipated such a rapid extension of the functions of the Palace, which produced some acute problems of space. Thus, ironically, the Palace, which in 1913 had been criticized by many as preposterously large, actually proved to be too small within a decade.
The primary aim of the Library was, in 1913 and still is today, to supply a service to the institutions which reside in the Palace. Initially meant for the Permanent Court of Abitration only, within ten years these services encompassed the now obsolete Court of the League of Nations and the Hague Academy of International Law. Since these institutions all operate in the same fields, the extensions did not really affect the Library’s province proper, which was and is mainly international law, both in the public and private domains. In later years, due to the additional fields covered by the International Court of Justice, this institution was provided with a library of its own.
Partnerships and Projects
The International Court of Justice, the Permanent Court of Arbitration and the Hague Academy of International Law are the principal clients of the Library. For the Hague Academy, the Library serves as its “home library,” providing the students of the Academy’s yearly Summer Course with access to all the books and other publications they need. The Library further provides bibliographical assistance to the researchers of the Academy’s Centre for Studies and Research in International Law and International Relations and its Seminar for Advanced Studies.
The other international institutions in the The Hague area, including in particular the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the Hague Conference on Private International Law, the Yugoslavia Tribunal, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, the Iran-US Claims Tribunal and the International Criminal Court, also make frequent use of the library. In this way the Library is an essential component in the network of The Hague, the international city of peace and justice.
The academic staff and students from the surrounding educational and research institutions, such as Leiden University (esp. its Campus The Hague), the Hague University, and the Asser Institute regularly visit our library.
The Library also cooperates in certain projects with some of the institutions mentioned above, with the aim to promote and strenghten the central role of The Hague in the global fight for peace and justice. An example is the Hague Justice Portal.