At the festivities around the opening of the Peace Palace in August 1913, Bertha von Suttner - 1905 Nobel peace prize winner and early advocate for an international court for arbitration - emphasized the importance of a home for international justice as a temple, a symbol, and a workplace. In line with Suttner’s observation,this essay argues that the Peace Palace is more than just a venue where international law is practiced: it provided a material home for the international community and thereby helped to sing this “imagined community” into existence. By studying the historical context of the establishment of the Peace Palace, we draw attention to the importance of the building as well as the gifts that it received from states in imagining and enacting the international community. Moreover, we discuss how two paradoxes underpinning the ideal of the international community also transferred into its material referent: the tensions between unity and individuality and between universalism and exclusion.

This Open Access article by authors T. Aalberts and S. Stolk was first published in the American Journal of International Law Unbound ( AJIL Vol. 114 - 2020) by Cambridge University Press on March 30th, 2020.

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The Peace Palace : Building (of) the international community.