Speech Mr. Steven van Hoogstraten

General Director, Carnegie Foundation (Peace Palace)

At the Inauguration of the World Peace Flame Pathway, The Hague
27th April 2004
 
 
The World Peace Flame was lit on this very spot two years ago. For me, it is a symbol of long lasting hope. The flames represent and transport the thoughts that people wish to put into them. Continuously, but ever changing in colour and form. 
 
Now a path has been laid out around the Flame, a path of stones from all over the world. One might ask whether stones are useful symbols for world peace? Stones are sometimes used to throw at enemies, they are the material for protective or divisive walls. But in this case the stones are used in a different capacity, as elements in their own right, as building blocks for peace.
 
Over 190 countries and territories have made available a tiny bit of their natural resources, of their land. Stones of many creeds, cultural and situational backgrounds have been used: ordinary stones, semi precious stones, parts of the Berlin Wall, slate from Robben Island, jade from China, etc.  Together they symbolise the stability and sustainability of the ambitions for world peace. The stones together form – as it were – a rock solid belief that wars and violence can be overcome, by the will and political beliefs of the human mind.
 
The Carnegie Foundation is happy to support this event, which is literally in the front yard of the Palace, or more precisely just outside  the front yard. The Foundation is celebrating its centenary this year in 2004, and one of our main activities is presented under the theme: “Peace is a choice, voor vrede kan je kiezen“. In that connection two artistic benches will be installed in this area later this year, one for peace and one for justice. The presentation of these benches is currently the subject of a competition of the schools in The Hague, to find the best ceramic outlook for these two notions. 
 
Indeed, not only peace is a choice. Other kinds of human behaviour like using force or engaging in violence are also a form of choice.
 
That is why human decisions will always be at the centre of world developments. In other words, we should be aware that our vulnerable planet is governed by people, and not by invisible forces.
 
People do make the difference. People can decide to act, and put peace and justice higher on the agenda than anything else. This monument serves to emphasize that principle.
 
In Dutch we have a saying that “iedereen ergens zijn steentje aan bijdraagt”, everyone contributes his or her little stone to something. This rather daily expression marks a result, the collective effort of a team performance.
 
The Peace Path is a perfect example of the meaning of this expression, as indeed everyone has brought his or her stone, and together the result sends a small but unmistakable signal of cooperation to the world.
 
I congratulate the World Peace Flame Foundation for this new endeavour which makes this area even more unique than it already was. It will no doubt attract many visitors.
 
As General Director of the Carnegie Foundation, it is my pleasure to open the doors of the Peace Palace for refreshments to highlight this beautiful occasion after this ceremony is finished.
 
I thank you.
 
World Peace Flame, The Hague, World Peace Pathway speech Steven van Hoogstraten

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