Dr. P.J. van Krieken
1949 – 2015
Charming, intelligent, internationalist, slightly eccentric, committed and engaging: these are only a few words to describe the multifaceted personality of Dr Peter van Krieken, Treasurer of the Royal Netherlands Society of International Law, who passed away, aged 65, on 22 May 2015 after a brief but devastating illness. Peter was a very well educated and talented man, who knew his classics, was a passionate violinist and a gifted teacher.
He thoroughly enjoyed his pre-university training at the Leiden Stedelijk Gymnasium, including Latin and Greek. For his university studies he enrolled at the Law School of Groningen University, the second oldest university in the Netherlands. Here he completed his bachelor’s in law and a master’s, specialising in European and international law, followed by a year at the Johns Hopkins University at Bologna. His intellectual mentor was Prof.dr B.V.A. Röling, a former judge on the Tokyo war crimes tribunal who had shifted his focus from criminal law to public international law and peace research. Röling had spotted Van Krieken and his close friends Robert Jan Akkerman (killed in Tunis in 1991) and Ok Pannenborg at an early stage and assigned a research topic to each of them. In just three years, at the age of 27, Peter obtained his doctorate in law under Röling’s supervision with a dissertation on Deserters, Conscientious Objectors to Military Service and Asylum Law (1976). Throughout his life Peter felt inspired by Röling and he honoured him by co-editing, together with his friends, an impressive international Festschrift for him, entitled Declarations on Principles: A Quest for Universal Peace (1977). The three also established the B.V.A. Röling Foundation, which awarded prizes to international law students and co-sponsored international law events.
The leitmotiv in Peter’s long and rewarding international and national career were migration, refugees and asylum seekers. His career has been very diverse and took him to many countries with an equal number of different functions. For example, for more than sixteen years he served as an international civil servant with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in cities such as Geneva, Stockholm, Peshawar, Juba (South Sudan), Beirut, Sana’a, Addis Ababa and Zirndorf (Germany).
Throughout his career as an international and Dutch civil servant Peter continued to publish books and academic articles. He has a long list of publications to his credit – more than 50 of his academic publications may be found in the catalogue of the renowned Peace Palace Library – on subjects such as asylum, migration, torture, hijacking, statelessness, family reunification, migration, health, terrorism and repatriation. Among all of these, in particular, Health, Migration and Return: A Handbook for a Multidisciplinary Approach (2001), of which
he was the editor, Terrorism and the International Legal Order (2002), which appeared within months after 9/11, and The Hague, Legal Capital of the World (2005) have been widely acclaimed.
After his 2014 retirement from his position as special advisor with the Netherlands Government on inter alia refugee issues, he continued to be actively involved in various EU projects in Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Malawi. In addition, he carried on teaching International Law and Human Rights at Webster University, Leiden, Refugee Law and Migration Law at the Hague University of Applied Sciences and Comparative Law and International Law at the Amsterdam University College. At the end of last year, in recognition of his work as an advisor to the government of Laos, he was appointed Honorary Consul to The Netherlands of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
Last but not least, in 2008 he was appointed as a member of the Board and Treasurer of the Royal Netherlands Society of International Law and in this function he was part of the team that organised ILA 2010, the biennial ILA conference that was held in The Hague on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Society. He reorganised the Society’s financial administration and his efficient handling of the financial side of organising ILA 2010 greatly contributed to making the conference the success it was. It was not only a privilege for us to work with him; we also very much enjoyed his huge commitment, his subtle sense of humour and broad world view. We will miss him enormously.
30 May 2015