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Stopping the War on Children

Around 420 million children are currently living in conflict-affected countries – more than at any time in the last 20 years. Many are deliberately targeted by armed combatants for heinous crimes, including killing, rape, and kidnapping.

THE HAGUE – Over a century after its construction, the Peace Palace in The Hague – home to the International Court of Justice, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, The Hague Academy of International Law, and the Peace Palace Library – stands as a monument to the soaring ambition and dashed hopes of a bygone generation. But it is also a monument to a vision that the world needs more than ever.

At the dawn of the twentieth century, The Hague hosted the first international conferences aimed at establishing shared norms governing conflict. The conventions that emerged from the 1899 and 1907 events formed the first multilateral treaties addressing the conduct of warfare, including the protection of civilians.

But the ambition went even further. The Peace Palace was built to host the Permanent Court of Arbitration, a body mandated to resolve territorial disputes in a courtroom, rather than on a battlefield. Andrew Carnegie, the American steel magnate who financed the Palace’s construction, predicted at the opening ceremony in 1913 that the end of war was “as certain to come, and come soon, as day follows night.” Tragically, within a year Europe descended into the Great War.

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