Address by Mayor Jan van Zanen at the presentation of the OPCW The Hague Award, 28 November 2022


Director-General, Mr Arias,

Mr. Chair,


Distinguished guests,



This presentation of the OPCW The Hague Award comes in a special year: the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons began its work a quarter of a century ago.

Here, in the city where as long ago as the Peace Conference of 1899 the very first ban on the use of chemical weapons was adopted.

As we all know, they were still used after that, mainly during the First World War.

With the entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1993 and the founding of the OPCW four years later, the international community managed to take an important step forward.

Since then, OPCW staff have succeeded in reducing the threat posed by chemical weapons.

The OPCW was therefore awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its work, and rightly so.

I have great respect for the women and men who have dedicated themselves to this work and continue to do so.

Because it is not without its risks.

The Hague is honoured by the presence of the OPCW.

You are one of the reasons why we can describe ourselves as the international city of peace and justice.

Wherever possible, The Hague municipality therefore supports the work of the OPCW.

And the OPCW The Hague Award is part of that.

Today we are honouring people and organisations who, like the OPCW, are working hard to free the world of chemical weapons.

Or who go into action when a chemical weapon attack occurs or there is an accident involving chemicals.

My warmest congratulations to this year’s three winners: the Special Risks Brigade of the Argentine Federal Police, the Chemical Weapons Convention Coalition and the Czech Population Protection Institute.

Your work, sadly, is still as relevant as ever.

I thank you, therefore, for your dedication.

Thank you, for making our world a safer place.

And it is not just us who are grateful to you, future generations will be too.