Toespraak door Jan van Zanen bij de onthulling van het OSCE HCNM bankje, 18 januari 2024


Thank you Commissioner Abdrakhmanov.

I’d like to thank you for this wonderful gesture of appreciation.

The city is very proud to host the High Commissioner and supports the important work that you do.

Work that unfortunately is still very much necessary.

The work of the High Commissioner is often described as ‘preventive diplomacy’.

By identifying and addressing tensions in an early stage, the work of the High Commissioner enables us to intervene in an early stage.

And thereby preventing escalation of these tensions.

In doing so, the High Commissioner helps to create awareness of the position of minorities and helps to pave the road to mediation instead of potential conflict.

In other words: the High Commissioner aims to maintain social cohesion and peace.

“Integration with respect for diversity” as the plaque on the bench says, is a fitting phrase that symbolizes the need to keep in mind the position of minorities in our societies.

This is something we also strive towards in The Hague.

The Hague is a city with residents of many different origins and beliefs.

The Hague is home to many international organizations, NGO’s, and UN institutions that all work towards a fair, just and peaceful world.

It is important that we encourage dialogue and leave room for differences of opinion. That is not always easy.

Despite all differences of opinion, we must see each other as fellow citizens and fellow human beings.

With the current conflicts in the world there is all the more reason for us to remain committed to a peaceful and just world.

I am proud to say that The Hague will always be a safe haven for people working on peace and justice.

This year marks the 125th anniversary of the first Peace Conference that took place in The Hague in 1899.

This was an unprecedented event.

For the first time states talked about rules in warfare and on weapons.

It also marked the establishment of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

Now, 125 years later The Hague is home over 400 international organizations.

Hereby, we continue to promote peace, justice and security, and strengthen democracy worldwide.

The High Commissioner is one of the key players in the ecosystem of peace and justice in The Hague.

We are proud to host an organization like yours in The Hague.

With this bench, the High Commissioner is expressing his gratitude to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and to The City of The Hague. But I would also like to thank you, for being here and for your valuable work.

And for the bench.

I think it is a wonderful idea to put something so tangible in the public space, for everyone to see and enjoy.

I hope that, when on a sunny day someone is taking a stroll in the Haagse Bos, they will sit down here and be intrigued about the plaque on the bench.

That perhaps, they will learn more about the HCNM.

That they will realize how unique this city is.

I would like to take this opportunity once again to thank you for your commitment. Your work is of great importance.

Especially now.