Peace Palace Centenary

The Peace Palace in The Hague, seat of the International Court of Justice, was initiated in 1900 after the 1899 Peace Conference, and competed in 1913, just before the outbreak of World War I in 1914. On August 28 there will be centenary celebrations.

The Palace and its centenary party are low key. The Nobel Peace Prize tends to draw more attention, and annually. The Palace is a symbol of good intentions and impotence. The high ambitions and the low results create a great sense of imbalance. Perhaps it is okay that the Palace is located at some distance from the truly powerful capitals of the world, but it doesn’t seem okay that conflicts like in Syria can erupt and destroy the peace.

Steel magnate Andrew Carnegie donated a major sum to have the building and its library erected. People thought in terms of bricks and books and elites. A modern magnate would think in terms of the internet and reaching everyone individually. That kind of creativity will be required to prevent the next World War. But the building is beautiul.

The Peace Palace, The Hague, statue of Justitia (Source: Wikipedia commons)

There are some personal notes. My great-great-grandfather Gerrit Cool (1825-1896) started a marble stonemasonry in Sneek, Friesland. His son and my great-grandfather Thomas Cool (1851-1904) didn’t want to continue in the company and preferred to become an artist painter. See his daughter’s book The five of us in Rome that received a first prize as the best children’s book for girls 1928. When his father died, Thomas sold the company to its recent managers, the brothers Vlietstra. They actually provided much marble to the Peace Palace. But the company didn’t survive the world crisis following the 1929 Wall Street Crash. Thomas made some huge paintings, some two by three meters, of buildings in Rome like the Saint Peter. When Thomas died, his surviving family had a hard time finding a place for those. In the early 1960s a friend worked at the Peace Palace and got it arranged that the paintings could be stored in its attic. In the early 1980s Thomas’s grandchildren inspected them, judged them to be too deteriorated, and had them destroyed. The only remaining large painting is the Colosseum in Moonlight, and this had been stored by my grandmother more safely next to the bicycles.

My own work on world peace concerns the analysis that the Montesquieu system of Trias Politica fails, and that each democratic nation requires a national Economic Supreme Court. The ESCs of the nations would be in scientific contact with each other, and thereby create some co-ordination of the world economy. Hopefully, my book DRGTPE on this finds its way into the Peace Palace library at some time.

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