Dutch Coin with an American Twist: Centennial of the Peace Palace in the Hague
Dutch Institution Was Built 100 Years Ago with Donation by U.S. Industrialist Andrew Carnegie
The Hague, seat of government in the Netherlands, home of King Willem Alexander and Queen Maxima, location of most embassies to the nation, and base for dozens of international organizations, is often in the world's news because two of those organizations make it the world center of international law. It is where the International Court of Justice (World Court) and International Criminal Court are located. These United Nations agencies are found in the Peace Palace, built with a $1.5 million donation from the American steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, and which on August 28, celebrated the 100th anniversary of its opening by Queen Wilhelmina. Ever since, the palace has been a worldwide symbol of peace and justice.
In honor of the occasion, the Netherlands Ministry of Finance has authorized the fourth Dutch commemorative coin of the year. Designer Thom Puckey chose for the obverse a dignified, clear, and forward-looking portrait of King Willem Alexander. The rendering of the Peace Palace on the reverse is meant to impart the full feeling of its exuberant and decorative architectural style. The words arbitrage, recht, vrede (arbitration, justice, peace) are used to convey the concepts with which the general public most closely associates the Palace. The judges shown facing the palace, a man and a woman, emphasize the importance of case-law.
The €5 sterling silver (.925) coin is 15.5 grams and measures 33 mm. It is struck only in proof quality with a mintage of 12,500 pieces.
The impetus for a “peace palace” was a discussion in 1900 between two diplomats who participated in the Hague Conference of 1899 , the Russian Friedrich Fromhold Martens and the American Andrew Dickson White. They discussed the need to create a home for the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), a body which was established by that convention. White contacted his friend Andrew Carnegie about this idea. Carnegie had reservations, and initially only wanted to provide money for the establishment of a Library of International Law. White persevered, and in 1903 Carnegie agreed to donate the US$1.5 million ($40,000,000 in current dollars) needed that would house the PCA and endow it with a library of international law. Carnegie initially wanted to donate the money directly to Queen Wilhelmna, but legal problems arose, and in November 1903 the Carnegie Foundation was created to manage the construction, ownership, and maintenance of the Palace. The foundation remains in this role today. It became the legal owner of the Palace because under Dutch law the PCA could not own the building. The World Court and International Criminal Court have both been based there since their creation, in 1945 and 2002 respectively, joining the PCA and the Peace Palace Library. Each summer, the Hague Academy of International Law invites hundreds of international law graduates to sessions at the Palace featuring lectures by renowned scholars in governmental and private international law.
Numerous celebratory activities are scheduled in the Netherlands between August 28 and September 21, the United Nations Day of Peace. It is worth noting that August 28, 2013 is both the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, D.C., and the anniversary of the death in 1645 of the Dutch statesman and scholar Hugo Grotius, who is recognized as the father of international law. Collectors will recall that the Netherlands issued a 10 guilder coin on the 350th anniversary of his death in 1995.