The Mayor of The Hague, Mr. Jan van Zanen, once again played host to a prestigious annual event that brought together members of the Diplomatic Corps, representatives of international organizations, and distinguished guests from the Royal Household. This tradition, which has become a hallmark of The Hague’s diplomatic calendar, showcases the city’s commitment to promote international relations and cultural exchange.
Last year’s reception at Panorama Mesdag set a high bar for excellence, with its unique venue and Mayor van Zanen’s warm accessibility leaving a lasting impression, especially on the new diplomats in the city. This year, the spotlight turned to the contemporary art museum, Sculptures by the Sea, nestled like a hidden jewel in the Scheveningen dunes.
Established nearly thirty years ago by avid sculpture collectors Theo and Lida Scholten, and built by King Willem I for his wife Frederica Louise Wilhelmina, the museum exclusively focuses on contemporary sculpture.
The Diplomatic Corps, representing nearly every country in the world, answered Mayor van Zanen’s call, highlighting the international significance of The Hague as the City of Peace and Justice. The city, home to the Dutch government, the king’s workplace, and numerous international organizations, including the U.N.’s International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court, stands as a global hub for diplomacy and justice.
Mayor van Zanen, often affectionately referred to as “our Mayor” by the diplomatic community, embodies a perfect blend of warmth, diligence, awareness of international issues, and an effective people-to-people approach. His role extends beyond representing the local population to also being a mayor for the thousands of internationals temporarily residing in the city.
The evening’s program began with the arrival of guests at 18:00, followed by speeches from Mayor van Zanen and the museum director, Ms. Brigitte Bloksma, at 18:30. Mayor van Zanen’s speech touched on the geopolitical situation, natural disasters, and the importance of maintaining and sustaining monumental buildings in the city.
Reflecting on the corrosive nature of the sea and the impact on historic buildings, the Mayor emphasized the need for Tender Love and Care (TLC) for embassies, residencies, and international organizations housed in such buildings. He connected the city’s ambition to be climate neutral by 2030 to the global effort, inviting diplomats to a round table on climate action on November 28.
Addressing global challenges, including earthquakes in Turkey and Morocco, the situation in Ukraine, and geopolitical developments, Mayor van Zanen urged a commitment to a peaceful and just world. He thanked diplomats for their daily work towards this goal and highlighted the importance of open dialogue and maintaining connections.
The evening also featured the recently opened exhibition of sculptor Tom Claassen, whose collection showcased archetypal characteristics of people, animals, and objects. The monumental sizes and diverse materials used added an artistic touch to the diplomatic gathering.
Accompanied by music from students of the Royal Conservatoire, the reception created a perfect blend of diplomacy, culture, and art. The event concluded at 20:00, allowing attendees to explore the exhibition further and engage in meaningful conversations.
In essence, The Hague’s Annual Diplomatic Corps Reception, under the gracious leadership of Mayor Jan van Zanen, continues to be a symbol of the city’s dedication to international collaboration, cultural exchange, and addressing global challenges. The melding of diplomatic discourse, artistic expression, and the warm hospitality of the Mayor create an atmosphere that fosters connections and promotes the values of peace and justice that The Hague proudly represents on the world stage.