LOTF2011 | Mayor van aartsen


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Law of the Future 2011
23 & 24 June 2011, Peace Palace, The Hague, The Netherlands

Title: Opening Speech
By: Mayor Van Aartsen, the mayor of The Hague

Workshop: Online Dispute Resolution


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LOTF2011 | Mayor van aartsen

  1. 1. 23 June 2011 | 09:00 - 09:45 | Opening SpeechBy: Mayor Van Aartsen, the mayor of The HagueAllow me Ladies and Gentlemen,Three weeks ago, it finally happened: Ratko Mladic arrived at the place where he should have arrived much,much earlier: Scheveningen prison. Several days later, he was brought before the judges of theInternational Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The world press had travelled to The Hagueto report on this historic event.Ten days later, we were in the Knights‟ Hall to witness the founding of The Hague Institute for GlobalJustice. One of its founding fathers is The Hague Institute for the Internationalisation of Law.In the short introductory filmIn the short introductory film shown on that occasion, we saw – not surprisingly – images of the recentmass demonstrations in the Middle East. Syrian President Assad heard protesters chanting “See you in TheHague!”.That these demonstrators want to see their president in The Hague shows how much the name of our cityhas become – worldwide – a symbol of peace and justice. And of hope – hope for a decent future. Hope thatperpetrators of crimes against humanity do not go unpunished.The world is in motion. Panta rhei. After the unforgettable Autumn of Nations in 1989, when the nations ofCentral Europe cast off the suffocating blanket of communism, we now have the Arab Spring.And it is partly up to usAnd it is partly up to us that that Spring actually brings about freedom, justice and peace, and does not gothe way of that other Spring, that short dream of freedom that so sadly had to end, the Prague Spring of1968.The challenge now is to invest in everything that strengthens the democratic movement in the Middle Eastas well as the rule of law and civil society in these countries. It may be that many in the West haveunderestimated the fortitude that resides in the freedom aspirations of the Arab peoples. But nothing,absolutely nothing, justifies a sceptical, even cynical attitude of the West. 23 June 2011 | Opening Speech | Mayor Van Aartsen | 1
  2. 2. The Law of the Future Joint Action ProgrammeThe Law of the Future Joint Action Programme is, therefore, timely. Because if the Arab Spring shows usanything, its that nothing is forever and even the most entrenched structures can be stirred into motion.At the same time, the outcome of developments in the Middle East is still terribly uncertain. Working withscenarios – the core of the Law of the Future Programme and a first for the legal world – perhaps offers ussome interesting possibilities in this case.Panta rhei. If this is evident anywhere, then it is in the cities. Cities have always been centres of innovationand change. Likewise, the law is not static. It, too, develops with the passage of time.Yet, strangely enough,Yet, strangely enough, we are mostly aware of the constant change in other areas such as fashion ortechnology. Achievements that would cause the mouths of our parents to drop in amazement, only conjuresmiles on our own faces.In The Hague, since time immemorial, the law has been ruminated and cogitated over. But always witha practical, hands-on mentality. It was here that Hugo Grotius formulated in his Mare liberum not only thebasis for modern maritime law. Inspired by Cicero, he also drafted the concept of an internationalcommunity.He believed that the international communityHe believed that the international community, this ‘societas humana’, by no means consisted of nationsstates alone; it also included individuals, enterprises and groups which we would describe nowadays as „non-state actors‟. Grotius‟ work, commissioned by the Dutch East India Company, delivered a new law for a newera. The 17th century was no less a period of internationalisation, albeit that tall ships, mostly so-calledSpiegelretour ships, rather than the Internet opened up the world at the time.In the late 19th and early 20th centuries people such as Tobias Asser and Benjamin Telders made significantcontributions to the development of international law and in doing so reaffirmed the position of The Hagueas the focus of legal knowledge.This building was and still isThis building was and still is, even after almost one hundred years, the bricks-and-mortar symbol of thatreputation.But The Hague, as an international academic centre, has not in the least fossilised. During the past tenyears, more new knowledge institutes have been established here than in the decades before. The HagueInstitute for the Internationalisation of Law, as part of The Hague Academic Coalition, has made anenormous contribution to strengthening the position of our city in this area. As I have already said, theGlobal Justice Institute would not have happened without the HiiL. 23 June 2011 | Opening Speech | Mayor Van Aartsen | 2
  3. 3. The Law of the Future ProgrammeThe Law of the Future Programme has encouraged HiiL to once again look to the future. A unique andambitious mission, entirely in the tradition of Hugo Grotius, Tobias Asser and Van Vollenhoven.A challenging mission, given the problems that afflict the world. A difficult mission too, in these times ofincreased national narrow-mindedness and isolationist tendencies. But I am convinced that HiiL will succeedin this mission. In recent years, it has been proven that it has the necessary qualities for this. That beingsaid, I now declare the Law of the Future Forum open. 23 June 2011 | Opening Speech | Mayor Van Aartsen | 3