Recap: Hague Justice Week 2023 – Uniting for Justice and Peace


It’s a wrap! The Hague Justice Week has concluded, marking the end of an impactful event. Over the course of the week, lawyers, academics, students, Chief Justices from Africa, delegations from Asia and Latin America, and journalists from twelve different countries gathered in The Hague to engage in meaningful conversations.

Making Impact

This year's theme, "Making Impact," reflected the pressing challenges to peace in 2023, prompting justice professionals to adopt approaches that promote peaceful and inclusive societies through enhanced access to justice. The discussions focused on ensuring that efforts to improve access to justice have tangible effects at local, national, and international levels.

The event served as a platform for collaboration among rule of law practitioners, legal experts, scientists, journalists, and entrepreneurs from The Hague and around the world. The outcomes of these dialogues will inform policymaking in The Hague and beyond, including the upcoming Agenda 2030 Stock Taking Summit, to be held in New York as part of the UN General Assembly.

Media's Crucial Role in International Justice

Kicking off Hague Justice Week with a thought-provoking start, the event delved into an important aspect of international justice: the role of the media. Recognising that international criminal justice trials often occur far from those most impacted by the crimes being addressed, the event aimed to bridge the gap and foster meaningful engagement with the public.

At the beginning of the week, three journalists hailing from different regions shared their experiences and insights on the challenges of reporting on international justice. They explored the crucial role played by the media in the process, including the challenges, possibilities, traumas, and threats they faced. The journalists grappled with the unique difficulties inherent in reporting on trials in The Hague. Yet, alongside these challenges, they also highlighted the idealism and unwavering commitment present in their work.

The Hague as International City of Peace and Justice

Notably, The Netherlands took the opportunity to establish itself as an international center of expertise for peace and justice, with the city of The Hague  as the legal capital of the world. This initiative aligns with the efforts of other cities, such as Geneva and Paris, which are actively promoting themselves as "Cities of Peace".

During the week, a significant event unfolded at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Lawyers representing Ukraine and Russia met for the first time since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, each side sending large legal teams. The ICJ commenced hearings on Ukraine's claim that Moscow violated a UN anti-terrorism treaty by supporting pro-Russian forces responsible for taking down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in 2014, resulting in the  loss of 298 lives. Ukraine also urged the court to address Russia's discrimination against the Tatar ethnic group in Crimea - an area which Russia has occupied since 2014.

African Chief Justices Inspire Exchange

A crucial part of Hague Justice Week was the presence of African Chief Justices representing nine different African countries. In collaboration with the African Foundation for International Law and the African Institute for International Law, the Hague Project Peace and Justice orchestrated a dynamic programme that spanned across Arusha and The Hague.

This programme aimed to foster knowledge exchange between esteemed international law institutes in Arusha and The Hague, and the African Chief Justices. To facilitate this exchange, visits were organized to prominent institutions such as the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court, the Kosovo Specialist Chambers, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, and the Hague Academy of International Law.

Beyond knowledge sharing, another crucial objective of the programme was to encourage dialogue between the Chief Justices and other participants of the Hague Justice Week, including journalists and civil society members from various parts of the world. To facilitate this meaningful interaction, the Chief Justices actively participated in Hague Talks discussions, sharing their experiences and perspectives on important subjects like the significance of women in the judiciary and environmental justice.

"Come to the table, otherwise you'll be on the menu.'' - Justice Gerald Ndika

Empowering the Next Generation

Additionally, an intergenerational dialogue took place, facilitating an exchange of ideas between established justice leaders and emerging young leaders. The session aimed to empower young change makers, emphasising their crucial role in driving change and progress as part of the 2030 Agenda. Kelechi Achinonu, a Nigerian lawyer passionate about leveraging law and technology to improve access to justice, asked about young people's impactful contributions to the global stage. In response, Gerald Ndika, a Justice of the Court of Appeal of Tanzania, wisely remarked, "Come to the table, otherwise you'll be on the menu," emphasising the importance of active youth involvement.

So, until we meet again in The Hague, let us carry the spirit of Hague Justice Week with us, working towards a world where justice and peace prevail. Together, we can make a meaningful impact and forge a path towards a more just and equitable future. See you in The Hague.