War, Peace and International Order? The Legacies of The Hague Conferences of 1899 and 1907

Chris Barber Discussion

The Faculty of Arts at the University of Auckland and the New Zealand Centre for Human Rights Law, Policy and Practice are pleased to jointly host a one-day interdisciplinary conference to discuss and integrate academic perspectives on the history and legacies of the two peace conferences held at The Hague in 1899 and 1907.

​To attend the conference please email your details—name, affiliation, and dietary requirements—to the conference organisers by April 11, 2016. There is no registration fee.

On 27 August 1898, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia sent a diplomatic rescript to various accredited representatives, inviting nations to discuss disarmament and other initiatives in support of peace. His initiative resulted in the hosting of the first Hague peace conference, the following year. Delegations representing 26 states from around the world negotiated a range of conventions at The Hague centred on the use of inhumane weapons, the customs and law of land and naval warfare, neutrality, and the pacific settlement of international conflicts. In 1907, the work of The Hague continued during a second conference, this one lasting twice as long and involving 44 states.

The exact legacies of the two Hague Peace Conferences of 1899 and 1907 are unclear. Between the various strands of scholarship there is a wide range of understandings of the two Hague Peace Conferences (1899 and 1907). At one end, diplomatic and military historians, who cast their gaze to 1914, traditionally dismiss the events of 1899 and 1907 as insignificant ‘footnotes en route to the First World War’ (N. J. Bailey). At the other end, experts in international law posit that The Hague’s foremost legacy lies in the manner in which it progressed the law of war and the concept and application of international justice. Historians of peace and pacifism view the conferences as seminal moments that legitimated and gave a greater degree of relevance to international political activism. Cultural scholars tend to focus on the symbolic significance of The Hague and the Peace Palace, built in 1913, as places for explaining the meaning of peace.


Professor Randall Lesaffer (Tilburg Law School, Catholic University of Leuven)
Dr William Mulligan (University College Dublin)

Conference commentators

Professor Glenda Sluga (University of Sydney)
Professor Neville Wylie (University of Nottingham)
Associate Professor Maartje Abbenhuis (University of Auckland)