On Sunday I visited the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague in The Netherlands. As the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW, with its 193 Member states, oversees the global endeavor to permanently and verifiably eliminate chemical weapons.
On this International Open Day, 16 organizations opened their doors for the 11th year under the same theme of Peace and Justice. Almost 6,000 people registered this year which is an increase of 1,300 from last year. The flags in the photo below represent the 193 nations that have committed themselves to the Chemical Weapons Convention.
I was free to visit points of interest in any order and at my leisure and OPCW Open Day Guides helped me make the most of my time there. I was given a fee portion of war chips. The unique sauce for the chips was a combination of chopped red onions, mayonnaise and peanut sauce. A few of us re-named them peace chips because we were eating them in the city of peace and justice.
OPCW experts provided a 20 minute overview of the types and effects of chemical weapons and what is being done to permanently eliminate them. I also got an up-close look at the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the OPCW in 2013 for its extensive efforts in eliminating chemical weapons. I also had a one of a kind opportunity to handle chemical weapons detection equipment, try on authentic gear (it’s very heavy) and use 3D technology to identify toxic chemicals.
There was a fantastic mini film festival called The Fires Project. The project is a series of short documentary videos depicting the intersection of people and chemical weapons. In one of the documentaries Irish director Donal Fernandes traces the steps of his two great-uncles killed in action during World War 1. At the front, both brothers had been exposed to mustard gas, a deadly chemical weapon that caused more casualties than all other chemical agents combined.