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The Hague Conferences and International Politics, 1898-1915

The Hague Conferences and International Politics, 1898-1915

Historian Maartje Abbenhuis (from the University of Auckland, New Zealand) copy-edited this monograph on two The Hague peace conferences during her NIAS fellowship in 2017/18.

About the Book

Beginning with the extraordinary rescript by Tsar Nicholas II in August 1898 calling the world’s governments to a disarmament conference, this book charts the history of the two Hague peace conferences of 1899 and 1907 – and the third conference of 1915 that was never held – using diplomatic correspondence, newspaper reports, contemporary publications and the papers of internationalist organizations and peace activists.

Focusing on the international media frenzy that developed around them, Maartje Abbenhuis provides a new angle on the conferences. Highlighting the conventions that they brought about, she demonstrates how The Hague set the tone for international politics in the years leading up to the First World War, permeating media reports and shaping the views and activities of key organizations such as the inter-parliamentary union, the international council of women and the Institut de droit international (Institute of International Law).

Based on extensive archival research in the Netherlands, Great Britain, Switzerland and the United States alongside contemporary publications in a range of languages, this book considers the history of the Hague conferences in a new way, and presents a powerful case for the importance of The Hague conferences in shaping twentieth century international politics.


“This book rethinks the place of the Hague conferences in modern international history. The public enthusiasm for peace endowed the work of the conferences with meaning and power, with crucial political implications throughout an often violent twentieth century. In a work, leavened with wit and personality, Abbenhuis shows how the conferences brought about real political change.” –  William Mulligan, Senior Lecturer in History, University College Dublin, Ireland“Here is a compelling account of the forging of the framework of today’s global laws of war and peace. Abbenhuis writes transnational history with a light touch and a shrewd eye for a moment when the Hague became what it is today — a synonym for the search for peace and justice. Essential reading for students of twentieth-century history.” –  Jay Winter, Charles J. Stille Professor of History Emeritus, Yale University, USA

“In this definitive and comprehensive study of The Hague Conferences of 1899 and 1907 and their legacies, Abbenhuis situates their accomplishments and limitations in the global “landscape of voices” that influenced them. Peace advocates, countless newspapers and books, politicians, women’s organizations, and intellectuals helped normalize a discourse of “peace through law” that has had a lasting effect on the development of international law and the regulation of state-sponsored conflict around the world.” –  Robert A. Nye, Professor Emeritus of History, Oregon State University, USA

Get the book from Athenaeum Booksellers, Amsterdam’s largest independent bookstore.