The Hague: Constructing an International Forum

In 1998 the International Criminal Court (ICC) was initiated and in keeping with the tradition of international adjudication, the court was hosted in Den Haag in the Netherlands. After a decade, an international architectural competition was announced for the court’s permanent premises during which the siting of the court was strategised by the city in what they termed the international zone.

Since 1989, Den Haag has been host to a growing number of international organisations, for example, Eurojust, The International Criminal Tribunal for (the former) Yugoslavia, Europol, and the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons along with the ICC to mention a few, and, all of them are diplomatically distributed within the international zone.

Attached to these intergovernmental organisations (IGOs) is a diverse range of nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) and private research institutions that work closely with the IGOs and may be considered their public audience. In its urban policies, Den Haag, has been deliberately advocating for an increase in the numbers of NGOs and research institutions in the city and today it houses, at a minimum, 160 that focus on international adjudication and human rights. Transnationally, Den Haag, with Brussels and Luxembourg, three cities in the BeNeLux union, together, host a growing number of supranational, international and nongovernmental organisations. Together, they are the global seat of non-state institutions of power.

Through a historical and urban analysis of the international zone of The Hague, I explore the role of urban processes in the construction of an international forum and the relationships that are fostered between the nation and international organisations, opening up questions about urban security vis-à-vis political autonomy.