First and Second Peace Conferences
The 20th century saw The Hague’s coming of age as an international city of peace and justice. In 1899 hundreds of delegates from 26 countries gathered for 3 months at Huis ten Bosch (the royal residence) for the First Peace Conference.
The conference was summoned at the urging of Mikhail Nikolayevich Muravyov, Foreign Minister of Russia. An effort to set standards for conflict resolution between nations, it banned the use of certain types of modern technology in war: bombing from the air, chemical warfare and hollow point bullets.
Second Peace Conference
The First Peace Conference also gave birth to the Permanent Court of Arbitration and was followed by an even larger Second Peace Conference in The Hague in 1907. The Second Peace Conference was held in 1907 to expand upon the original Hague Convention, modifying some parts and adding others, with an increased focus on naval warfare. This was signed in October 1907 and entered into force in 1910.
The Third Hague Peace Conference, planned for 1915, was usurped by the First World War, but 4 years of trench warfare did their work and the Conference’s ideals were institutionalised in a Permanent Meeting of the League of Nations in Switzerland. In The Hague the ideals took actual form: the world-famous Peace Palace, financed by Andrew Carnegie, was officially opened in 1913 on the eve of the First World War. Home to the Permanent Court of Arbitration, it welcomed the Permanent Court of International Justice (under the League of Nations) in 1922 and is now the seat of its successor, the International Court of Justice, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations.
Though not negotiated in The Hague, the Geneva Protocol to the Hague Convention is considered an addition to the Hague Convention. It permanently bans the use of all forms of chemical and biological warfare. The 1925 protocol grew out of the increasing public outcry against chemical warfare following the use of mustard gas and similar agents in the First World War. The protocol has since been augmented by the Biological Weapons Convention (1972) and the Chemical Weapons Convention (1993).