An international tribunal in The Hague recently rejected China's territorial claims to the resource-rich South China Sea -- the latest ruling in an ongoing regional dispute. But what is The Hague, anyway?
Excellent question. Glad you asked. Laura Ling has the answers in today's Seeker Daily report.
The metropolitan area known as the Hague is the government seat and third-largest city in the Netherlands. But in terms of international dispute resolution, it's kind of like the capital city of the planet. More than 160 international organizations are headquartered in The Hague, including the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the International Criminal Court (ICC). It's also one of the main host cities for the United Nations, along with Geneva, Vienna and New York.
History and tradition have earned the city some splendid nicknames, such as the Judicial Capital of the World and the International City of Peace and Justice.
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It all began in the late 19th century, when Russian Czar Nicholas II called for an international meeting on peace and disarmament, inviting 26 countries to draft the first international treaties on war. This meeting resulted in the creation of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the world's first sitting panel for settling international disputes.
Over the next century, hundreds of other courts, panels, tribunals and organizations made their home in The Hague. As a recent example, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has been operating out of the city for nearly two decades now. In 2013, the OPCW was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for facilitating the destruction of Syria's stockpile of illegal weapons.
So when media outlets refer to The Hague, they're referring to a specific court or panel within the city. As such, the power of The Hague ultimately depends on the political body issuing a given ruling, which member states have officially agreed to abide by the decision, and what enforcement options are in place.
In the case of the South China Sea dispute, matters are murky. While pretty much every other nation in Southeast Asia and the world applauded the decision, China's state news agency called the ruling "null and void" and insisted that The Hague has no jurisdiction over the matter. Sigh....
-- Glenn McDonald
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New York Times: Tribunal Rejects Beijing's Claims in South China Sea
International Criminal Court: Al Bashir Case
The Hague International City of Peace and Justice