The death of a white elephant in The Hague

06 April 2018 by Irene van der Linde and Tjitske Lingsma

In 2011 a new prestigious institution - The Hague Institute for Global Justice - was set up with huge ambitions and 20 million euros of Dutch government funding. But after only a few years, the institute is broke and Dutch politicians are asking questions in parliament. How did such a high-profile think-tank end up as a white elephant?

A painter spruces up the former premises of the The Hague Institute for Global Justice to ready it for a new tenant after the demise of the institute (Photo: Janet Anderson)
Image caption: 
A painter spruces up the former premises of the The Hague Institute for Global Justice to ready it for a new tenant after the demise of the institute (Photo: Janet Anderson)

For people interested in justice, peace and security it was a great place to visit. Not only because The Hague Institute for Global Justice constantly scheduled events featuring interesting speakers covering important subjects or organisations launching crucial reports. These conferences, roundtables and panels were sometimes inspiring or sometimes hot air. But the ambiance was more than pleasant. The Institute was housed in a monumental villa in a street lined with chestnut trees in a posh area of The Hague. Often the programme was followed by drinks with lovely wine and excellent snacks which allowed an international community of professionals, diplomats, judges of international tribunals and courts, lawyers and researchers to meet in an informal manner. But behind that façade something else was going on, we discovered, while investigating the institute for the Dutch weekly De Groene Amsterdammer.

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