Congress of The Hague at 75: political will needed to ensure culture of multilateralism lasts

PACE The Hague 3 March 2023
  • Diminuer la taille du texte
  • Augmenter la taille du texte
  • Imprimer la page
  • Imprimer en PDF
Congress of The Hague at 75: political will needed to ensure culture of multilateralism lasts

Seventy-five years ago, over 750 delegates from around Europe took part in the historic steps towards European unity at the Congress of Europe in The Hague. Against this background, a special event that took place at the Peace Palace in The Hague on 2 March reflected upon the geopolitical balance in today’s international relations – particularly following Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.

“75 years ago, at a moment when Europe was still in ruins and mourning millions of deaths, after the horrible Second World War, it was here in The Hague that hundreds of politicians, scientists, journalists, writers and others came together in the so called ‘Hague Congress’ to debate the possible outlines of a post-war multilateral European architecture to prevent a new, third and possibly last world war again starting on European soil,” PACE President Tiny Kox said in the opening address.

“We are here to discuss the challenges European multilateralism is facing, and how the Council of Europe Summit that will be held in Reykjavik in May can help to strengthen and if needed reinvent effective, rules-based multilateralism to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of our 700 million citizens and our democratic structures,” he added.

“The Council of Europe grew from the extraordinary ambition, determination and vision of those who gathered in the Hague in 1948. Since that time, the expansion of European institutions has brought an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity to those countries who have joined them,” said Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić, addressing the participants. “But history teaches us that nothing should be taken for granted. And today there is no doubt that the European dream is troubled. The Russian Federation’s brutal, illegal and ongoing aggression against Ukraine is proof of that.”

What must not be questioned is multilateralism itself, Ms Pejčinović added. “Leaders at the Congress of Europe understood its importance. When they advocated pooling sovereignty, they were making the case for international co-operation, embracing the opportunity to work together for the resolution of problems and the opportunity to reach bigger, higher goals. Can this culture of multilateralism last? Certainly. Will it? It is a matter of political will,” she added.

Franc Weerwind, Dutch Minister for Legal Protection, underlined that “today, more than ever, we need to stand together as Europeans. We must realise that we have made tremendous progress in the past seventy-five years. Step by step, agreement by agreement, convention by convention, we have worked together to achieve a higher level of protection. Now that these achievements are being put to the test, it is our duty to rally behind those, to cherish those and more importantly, to use them to their strengths.”

The event was organised by the Netherlands delegation to PACE, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and the Clingendael Institute.

 Speech by Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić