Today, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden was in The Hague to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). She was joined by King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands at the solemn ceremony that took place at the Ridderzaal (Hall of the Knights).
King Willem-Alexander unveiled a plaque celebrating the 20th anniversary which will be placed right next to the one unveiled by his mother, Princess Beatrix, for the 10th anniversary in 2007. 450 Permanent Representatives, as well as dignitaries from the Netherlands, chemical weapons victims and leaders of international organisations attended the ceremony, as well.
In her keynote address, Crown Princess Victoria said that she follows the OPCW’s work with interest and emphasised how important the organisation is, especially with the recent use of chemical weapons in Syria, a member of the convention since 2013. Crown Princess Victoria previously visited the OPCW headquarters in The Hague in April 2015.
Twenty years ago, on 29 April 1997, the Chemical Weapons Convention entered into force, and the OPCW was created. It is an international organisation that aims to achieve the objectives of the convention; thus, it works in close collaboration with the UN. Since 1997, according to their website, nearly 95 percent of the chemical weapons stockpiles that were known were eliminated, Albania being the first possessor state to destroy their stockpile in 2007. Russia and the US are expected to have fully destroyed their stockpiles by 2020 and 2023 respectively. 98 percent of the global population live under the Chemical Weapons Convention’s protection as 192 countries committed themselves to it. The organisation received the Nobel Prize for Peace in Oslo for their work in 2013.
This ceremony is the first of several events that will take place around the world during the year to celebrate the anniversary but also to raise awareness about chemical weapons and share knowledge about disarmament and peaceful use of chemistry.