THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 26 April 2017 — In the presence of His Majesty the King of the Netherlands, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) today marked the 20th Anniversary of the entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention and the founding of the OPCW during a solemn ceremony held at the Ridderzaal (Hall of the Knights) in The Hague.
“We have come together to rededicate ourselves to peace, security and progress. Those are the abiding objectives of the Chemical Weapons Convention and the essence of all our endeavours at the OPCW,” expressed the OPCW Director-General, Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, in his opening statement.
Ambassador Üzümcü paid homage to the memory of victims of chemical weapons across the world: “Many survivors continue to endure painful suffering despite the years that have elapsed since exposure. Some are present here today. They remind us of the human toll when morality is recklessly abandoned and universal norms callously breached.”
He reminded guests that “the work of the OPCW represents the most effective response to such cruelty; a ray of hope illuminating a dark shadow on our history.”
During the ceremony, the King together with OPCW’s Director-General, unveiled a plaque acknowledging the Organisation’s anniversary. The plaque will on display at OPCW Headquarters next to the plaque dedicated by Her Majesty Queen Beatrix on the occasion of the OPCW’s 10th anniversary.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations, H.E. Mr António Guterres, sent a special video message to the OPCW, while keynote remarks featured Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, a United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Advocate; Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, H.E. Mr Bert Koenders; the Mayor of The Hague, H. E. Mrs Pauline Krikke; and the OPCW’s Chairperson of the Conference of the States Parties, H.E. Dr Christoph Israng.
The Commemorative Ceremony was attended by 450 Permanent Representatives and other delegates from OPCW Member States; chemical weapon victims; leaders of international organisations, chemical industry and civil society; and dignitaries from the Netherlands.
As the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW oversees the global endeavour to permanently and verifiably eliminate chemical weapons. Since the Convention’s entry into force in 1997 – and with its 192 States Parties – it is the most successful disarmament treaty eliminating an entire class of weapons of mass destruction.
Over the past twenty years, nearly 95 per cent of chemical weapon stockpiles declared by possessor states have been eliminated under the watchful eye of the OPCW. One hundred and ninety-two countries committing themselves to the Chemical Weapons Convention have made it possible for 98 per cent of the global population to live under the Convention’s protection.
This achievement is the result of a global endeavour – involving nations, chemical industry, scientists, and civil society – to create and enforce the world’s most successful international disarmament treaty. For its efforts in eliminating chemical weapons, the OPCW received the 2013 Nobel Prize for Peace.
- Video, photographs, video message of the UN Secretary-General and the OPCW Commemorative film are available at: OPCW at Twenty
- Statement by the Director-General: Ceremony to Commemorate the Twentieth Anniversary of the Chemical Weapons Convention and the OPCW
- Video message by Mr António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations
- Address by Mr Bert Koenders, Minister of Foreign Affairs, The Netherlands
- Address by Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden
- Address by Mrs Pauline Krikke, Mayor of The Hague
- Address by Ambassador Dr Christoph Israng, Chairperson of the Conference of the States Parties
- OPCW Fact Sheets