Welcome by Jan van Zanen at The Hague Conference on Responsible AI, 12 May 2022


Experts, scientists, decision-makers,

I am Jan van Zanen, Mayor of The Hague. Also on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice and Security, I would like to welcome you to this informal kick-off of the conference on the responsible use of artificial intelligence.

It’s good that this conference can take place physically now, after being postponed for a year.  Despite the many benefits of working digitally, there is nothing better than being able to meet each other in person. An observation that in many ways is related to the theme of this conference: the responsible, human-centred use of artificial intelligence for the purpose of peace, justice and security.

The Hague is the Netherlands’ seat of government, where its parliament is based and thus the nation’s centre of democracy and diplomacy. The Hague is also international city of peace, justice and security. It was here that the Peace Palace opened in 1913. Today the city is home to hundreds of governmental and non-governmental organisations. The UN, EU and NATO are all represented here. While helping to safeguard important intrinsic values, The Hague is helped, too. In creating a strong city with a vibrant urban economy.

We are therefore pleased to provide a platform for the debate on the responsible development of artificial intelligence (or A.I.). A topical theme in the public arena and one that is high on policy agendas in the EU. The technology offers enormous potential for society. Examples that come to mind include efficient aid in the event of disasters, precision agriculture for better yields, or improving and speeding up public services for citizens in many different areas.

At the same time, despite all the opportunities that these tumultuous developments have brought, the other side of the coin also demands our attention. Artificial intelligence is needed to defend against cyber attacks and in the development of new weapon systems. It also raises fundamental questions about the values behind the use of algorithms and the limits that we should set on self-thinking and self-learning systems. Public values and human rights must always be the benchmark for the development and application of new technology.

The Hague is the right place for a conference on the opportunities and risks presented by artificial intelligence. There is a wide range of expertise available here, not just technological, but also legal, ethical and administrative. Organisations such as Unicri[1], NCIA[2], the Asser Institute[3], and Europol, as well as the University of Leiden and the Technical University of Delft, are all taking part in this conference. The Hague has all the necessary ingredients to make a meaningful contribution to the development of responsible and human-centred artificial intelligence. This conference is an excellent example of that.

I wish you all every success over the coming days.



[1] Unicri works to achieve a world of respect for rights, dignity, and diversity, the rule of law, justice and development.

[2] NATO communications organisation.

[3] Asser Institute: Institute for public and private international law