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Table discussions on peace and justice at free peace dinners

28 May 2024

For 125 years, The Hague has been the city of peace and justice, which should be celebrated! Together with the Participatie Keuken (Participation Kitchen), the municipality organizes free dinners in every district and a big communal dinner at the end of the year. Every resident of The Hague is welcome to join. During the peace dinner, people discuss about peace and justice. And eating and talking together brings people together. In doing so, the peace dinners contribute to various sustainable goals such as Goal 3 (good health and well-being) Goal 10 (reducing inequalities) and Goal 16 (peace, justice and strong public services). We joined the first peace dinner that took place at the Participatie Keuken in Moerwijk, Escamp.

Kickoff of the peace dinners

The green carpet is already out and we are welcomed by a friendly hostess. Every week the Participatie Keuken hosts a dinner for the neighborhood, but this time it is extra special: it is the kickoff of a series of peace dinners around town. Visitors can expect a three-course dinner and live music. On the menu for tonight is carrot ginger soup, a stew and baked apple with raisins and cinnamon on top. In the room, over fifty people are already seated at round tables; neighbors and strangers, young and old. Some are chatting, others are curiously looking at the board game on the table. The evening is opened by the district director of Escamp, Petra Sevinga. After a short opening word and explanation, the evening starts with a board game which is specially designed to get the guests talking about peace and justice. Questions to be expected are: “Have you ever experienced something unjust?”, “What does peace mean to you?” and “To whom would you give the Nobel Peace Prize?”.


From one-time civic initiative during covid to weekly dinners

This is not the first time Ben Lachhab, initiator of the Participatie Keuken, has organized a dinner. “I had been walking around with the idea of a community kitchen for a long time". Eventually the Participatie Keuken started as a civic initiative with the goal of cooking 100,000 meals for vulnerable residents of The Hague. In January 2020, Ben began preparations just before the lockdown. “When the lockdown was announced, we didn't throw in the towel. The same day we called the municipality and sat down together with the crisis team,” says Ben. Within a week an entire organization was in place, including volunteers. Help came from various quarters: students who wanted to distribute the meals, Shell who made its kitchen and cooks available, the World Forum who offered space for distribution, and the municipality still had storage space available. In this way, the Participatie Keuken was able to help thousands of The Hague residents throughout the covid period. 

“The food is the means, not the end goal. It's about meeting other people in the neighborhood and the movement it creates"


Since then, the Participatie Keuken has become a household name in the city. They organize weekly tables for about 1000 people. Everyone is welcome to join but the elderly in particular are loyal visitors. “There is nothing like seeing someone come to our table and make new friends. One lady even went on vacation with a friend she met here!” says Ben proudly. Ben would like to reach even more people: “Our dream is to make 10,000 or 20,000 meetings a week a reality, together with our partners in the city and together with the more than 1,000 volunteers who get involved through the Participatie Keuken. The success is due to them. Without motivated and enthusiastic volunteers, we have no value,” said Ben.

City of peace and justice, what exactly does it mean?

125 years ago, the first Hague Peace Conference (1899) was held. A historic moment that marked the beginning of a new era for The Hague. Representatives of 26 countries made agreements on war and arms. The Permanent Court of Arbitration was established as weel, which now resides in the Peace Palace. This is a court where countries can voluntarily go to resolve their conflicts peacefully. In the years that followed, more and more international organizations have come to The Hague working on peace and (international) law. There are now more than 400 international organizations in The Hague. That is why The Hague has been known as a city of peace and justice for 125 years. 

Click here for more information about the anniversary year and other activities.


When are the next peace dinners?

  • Wednesday, June 12, 2024 in Wijkcentrum Mariahoeve, Ivoorhorst 155, 2592 TH The Hague 
  • Wednesday, June 26, 2024 in the Abdijkerk,Willem III-straat 40 2552 BS The Hague
  • Friday, July 12, 2024 in Dienstencentrum Copernicus, Daguerrestraat 16, 2561 TT The Hague

The dinners are free of charge. You can register at www.deaanschuiftafel.nl. All editions and aanschuiftafels can be found on the website.