Word of welcome by Mayor Jan van Zanen at the presentation of the CIMIC Award of Excellence, 17 October 2022
What a great pleasure and privilige to say a few words to you on the occasion of the presentation of the CIMIC Award of Excellence.
The Civil-Military Center of Excellence was founded in 2007, so it can celebrate its fifteenth anniversary.
I would therefore like to warmly congratulate director Colonel Andreas Eckel, and all the staff on this jubilee.
I would also like to congratulate Professor Dr. Klaus Beckmann of the Helmut Schmidt Universität Hamburg on receiving the CIMIC Award for Excellence.
Article 90 of the Dutch constitution states that ‘The government promotes the development of international legal order’.
The Hague, International City of Peace and Justice, feels it has a duty to support that aim wherever possible.
We do that firstly by providing the best possible accommodation for international organisations and their staff.
NATO has been at home in The Hague for decades.
An appropriate and natural location for an organisation for which peace and security have high priority.
The Hague is pleased that the NATO Civil-Military Center is based here, too.
The presence of many other international bodies here in The Hague, made it attractive to you.
And that is precisely what The Hague is aiming for.
The concentration of so many international organisations dealing with peace, justice and security means that The Hague can offer an excellent environment for cooperation in all of these areas.
Our role as a city is to initiate, encourage and connect the organisations.
Because we believe that cooperation with partners is the key to success.
Without cooperation, we won’t get anywhere.
The Hague also actively promotes and facilitates innovation.
Including in the field of humanitarian aid.
The Hague therefore actively invests in an environment that facilitates start-ups and innovative businesses to work with non-profits and knowledge institutes.
To achieve this, we have developed The Hague Humanity Hub, the centre of our innovation ecosystem, where cross-overs will lead to investable projects that can change the world.
It houses many organisations, including the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA).
How new technology is being used for humanitarian purposes was something I was able to see first hand during a recent visit to The Hague-based headquarters of the International Commission on Missing Persons, ICMP.
This international organisation searches for missing people worldwide using pioneering DNA search methods.
The ICMP is currently operating in Ukraine, too.
The news of the Russian invasion of Ukraine had a major impact everywhere but in The Hague it was perhaps particularly felt as something bitter.
All the more so when reports of war crimes reached us.
Is the quest for peace and justice a futile one and is war, as people used to think, something unavoidable that will trample you underfoot anyway?
As important as it is to keep things in perspective, if there is one thing that we must always guard against it is cynicism.
Like Andrew Carnegie, who donated the Peace Palace to The Hague, what we need to be is realistic idealists.
The fact that war has broken out does not mean that we should cease our efforts to prevent it.
Or that we should end our commitment to human rights.
Every chemical weapon destroyed helps to make the world a safer place.
Every war criminal convicted, despite the fact that so many of them are still at large, makes the world a little more just.
In this respect, the commitment to peace and security of the Civil-Military Center of Excellence and of the Helmut Schmidt Universität, lead by Professor Klaus Beckmann, are inspiring examples for us all.