This is a guest post by Ashley Granby Wolf, an intern with the Law Library’s Office of External Relations.
On Wednesday, July 18, 2018, the Law Library of Congress and the Peace Palace Library in the Netherlands marked a historical moment in their nations’ long-standing diplomatic relationship.
Law Librarian of Congress, Jane Sánchez, and Librarian of the Peace Palace Library, Jeroen Vervliet, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to commence an information-sharing relationship between the two institutions. This relationship allows each library to gain insights on collections, cataloging, and services at the partner institution to better serve their respective users. Such insight could ultimately contribute to and promote good lawmaking and peaceful conflict resolution through law.
“The signing of this document formally establishes a new strategic collaboration between our two libraries. This is an opportune time to exchange information about the systems and services in place at each library. Such information will help each library better serve its users,” said Sánchez.
Sophie Brinkel, policy advisor at the Carnegie Foundation, which owns and administers the Peace Palace facility, said: “The signing of the MOU marks the historical relationship between the U.S. and the Netherlands, and highlights the legacy of American philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie, and the importance of law libraries worldwide.”
In 1913, determined to see world peace flourish, Carnegie stated his belief that a “Temple of Peace” must be built to illustrate the urgency and importance of resolving war and establishing peace between all nations, through arbitration, mediation, and education. He donated $1.5 million to build the Peace Palace in The Hague, the Netherlands, often referred to as the world’s legal capital. Carnegie’s condition for this donation was for the Peace Palace to house a prestigious library, as well as the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), which was established as a result of The Hague Peace Conference in 1899.
“A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people. It is a never failing spring in the desert,” Carnegie said.
Today, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the judicial arm of the United Nations (U.N.), is also housed at the Peace Palace. The role of the ICJ is to settle legal disputes submitted by nation states, and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred by authorized U.N. organs and specialized agencies.
Vervliet believes that the ICJ and the PCA are instrumental institutions in establishing and maintaining world peace. “If there were always an obligation for all nations to comply with the International Court of Justice system, and if they acknowledged its purpose, and kept themselves accountable to its values and mission, it would immediately eliminate all controversy between nations,” said Vervliet.