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Secretary-General calls chemical weapons memorial ‘a symbol of suffering and hope’

Secretary-General calls chemical weapons memorial ‘a symbol of suffering and hope’

Marking the unveiling of a permanent memorial in The Hague to victims of chemical weapons, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today pledged to redouble the efforts of the world body to achieve universal membership of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

“The memorial you unveil today is a symbol of suffering and hope,” Mr. Ban said in a video message to the unveiling ceremony in the Dutch city. “With it, we remember the unspeakable horror endured by victims of chemical weapons. And we vow that their pain will never be forgotten by present and future generations.”

The memorial, designed by the Dutch sculptor Voebe de Gruyter, consists of a maple tree situated among dunes outside the headquarters of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

The tree carries a solar panel array that will be used as a power source for a webcam, with the live video captured by that webcam to be displayed on the memorial’s website. Granite paving around the tree will feature a poem dedicated to victims of chemical weapons.

The ceremony also marks the 10th anniversary of the Chemical Weapons Convention entering into force, and the pact now has 182 States Parties covering 98 per cent of the world’s population.

“I call on those States that have not yet ratified or acceded to the Convention to do so without delay,” Mr. Ban said. “And I call on all possessor States to complete the destruction of their declared stockpiles according to the deadlines.”

The ceremony in The Hague was attended by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, OPCW Director-General Rogelio Pfirter, Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen and representatives of OPCW Member States, international organizations, the chemical industry and civil society.