The Hague Approach: What is it?

26 Aug 2013  |  by Hague Institute Staff


For the past year, The Hague Institute for Global Justice, with help from the Van Vollenhoven Institute (VVI), researched lessons learned from post-conflict activities in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. The research drew from local experiences to recommend guiding principles important and common to peacebuilding interventions. 

UN Photo/John Isaac

What is The Hague Approach?


The Hague Approach comprises six guiding principles for achieving sustainable peace: 


  1. Prevention Matters discusses prevention of the onset and recurrence of conflict. It highlights the importance of participation of all relevant international actors in programs and strategies that prevent conflict. 
  2. Fostering a Rule of Law Culture underscores the importance of widely-shared commitment to justice in addition to effective institutions, codes and procedures. Key tasks to foster a rule of law culture include reconciling the formal and informal justice sectors, ensuring legal protection of vulnerable groups and developing private law in addition to transitional justice. 
  3. A Network Response underlines that the causes of conflict are increasingly network-driven, and therefore the response must be as well. The principle highlights the importance of a ‘coalition of the relevant’ and the value of the network as an organizational form for peacebuilding.
  4. Private Sector Engagement addresses the role of business in conflict. Although the private sector’s role in post-conflict environments has been contentious, when  properly leveraged, it is essential to ensuring equitable growth and durable peace. 
  5. Strategic Communication emphasizes how the actions of international peacebuilders influence the perceptions of local populations. By understanding the priorities of local people, peacebuilders can promote behavior that is conducive to sustainable peace.
  6. Responsibility to Learn highlights the duty of peacebuilders to learn about the social, political and legal context in which they operate. This principle recommends consulting local  experts and monitoring and evaluating all peacebuilding initiatives.

The principles are recommendations for policy-makers and are practical and accessible.  They will be launched alongside a comparative study on rule of law building activities in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as a detailed field-study on rule of law in post-Qaddafi Libya.


What does The Hague Approach aim to achieve?

Conflicts devastate societies.  Their costs can be counted in human suffering, economic collapse and the instability they provoke, often beyond the borders of the country where hostilities first began.  The six guiding principles can assist peacebuilders in their important and often complex work to achieve sustainable peace.


The Hague Approach aims to provide guidance to international policy-makers on how to engage in sustainable peacebuilding. To this end, the principles outline practical tools and timely policy recommendations based on empirical findings. In particular, The Hague Approach emphasizes local participation, engaging relevant actors in networks rather than in hierarchies, leveraging new technologies for peacebuilding, and promoting monitoring and evaluation and continual learning. When the lessons of experience are suitably applied, sustainable peace is within reach.


What is the future of The Hague Approach?

The city of The Hague, with its exceptional constellation of international courts and tribunals, has long been associated with international peace and justice. Using The Hague Approach to inform its future work in peacebuilding, The Hague Institute will continue to conduct professional training and capacity building, carry out interdisciplinary policy-relevant research, and use its convening power to facilitate dialogue between various actors (e.g. public-private, military-civil, and local-international). We hope these principles will also be useful for international policy-makers and practitioners striving for peace.


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