Nobel Peace Prize: Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Wins

Image: Nobel Peace Prize: Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Wins Director General of the OPCW, Ahmet Uzumcu.

Friday, 11 Oct 2013 08:18 AM

By Michael Mullins

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The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (O.P.C.W.) for its ongoing efforts to eliminate chemical weapons around the world.

The United Nations-backed organization is tasked with implementing the Chemical Weapons Convention treaty of 1997.

The four aims of the organization are:

• The destruction of all chemical weapons under international verification

• Prevent the creation of new chemical weapons

• Assist countries seeking protection from chemical attacks

• Foster international cooperation in the peaceful use of chemistry

The O.P.C.W. is currently responsible for overseeing the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons stock piles.

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The O.P.C.W. will receive $1.25 million when it is presented with the award on Dec. 10.

The decision to honor the O.P.C.W. was a surprise for some who felt the award was going to the 16-year-old Pakistani girl, Malala Yousafzai.

In October 2012, Yousafzai survived being shot in the head and neck by a Taliban gunman who opposed her promotion of education for women. On Thursday, Yousafzai won the European Union's annual human rights award.

Another front-runner for the Nobel Peace Prize who fell short was a gynecologist from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denis Mukwege, who treated rape victims in the central Africa nation.

This is the second year the award has been given to an organization as opposed to an individual, with last year's Nobel Peace Prize going to the European Union. This has led some to say that the 189-member board, based in Hague, is is favoring Europe too much.

Thorbjorn Jagland, the former Norwegian prime minister who is chairman of the panel, dismissed the claim. He told reporters that the organization's decisions are "global," The New York Times reported.

In addition to the chemical weapons destruction in Syria, the Chemical Weapons Convention treaty requires that other nations abide by the same guidelines, the Nobel committee noted in their award announcement. The United States and Russia maintain the largest stockpiles of chemical weapons.

"Certain states have not observed the deadline, which was April 2012, for destroying their chemical weapons. This applies especially to the U.S.A. and Russia," the committee said.

"Disarmament figures prominently in Alfred Nobel’s will. The Norwegian Nobel Committee has through numerous prizes underlined the need to do away with nuclear weapons," the committee added. "By means of the present award to the O.P.C.W., the Committee is seeking to contribute to the elimination of chemical weapons."

Jagland added that the award should remind other nations with chemical stockpiles, particularly the U.S. and Russia, that they too should destroy them "especially because they are demanding that others do the same, like Syria."

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"We now have the opportunity to get rid of an entire category of weapons of mass destruction," he said. "That would be a great event in history if we could achieve that."

Related stories:

US Researchers Win 2013 Nobel Prize for Medicine

Brit, Belgian Win 2013 Physics Nobel Prize for Forseeing 'God's Particle'

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