The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has been awarded the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize. The OPCW, tasked with dismantling Syria’s chemical weapons cache, beat out a field containing 258 other nominations.
In its citation on Friday, the five-member Nobel Committee honored the OPCW – created in 1997 to enforce the Chemical Weapons Convention – for its “extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons.”
“The conventions and the work of the OPCW have defined the use of chemical weapons as a taboo under international law,” it said. “Recent events in Syria, where chemical weapons have again been put to use, have underlined the need to enhance the efforts to do away with such weapons.”
Experts from The Hague-based global chemical weapons watchdog are aiming to have Syria’s chemical weapons production facilities and weapons-filling equipment destroyed by November 1. It is a major step in the Russia-US deal to have disassembled Syria’s chemical weapons program by mid-2014.
Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Thorbjoern Jagland, said the decision to award the OPCW with the prize was “a message to all who have not ratified the (Chemical Weapons) convention and those who have not honoured their obligations to the convention.”
News of the OPCW’s win was broken one hour before the official announcement in Oslo at 11 a.m. (9 a.m. UTC) by Norwegian public broadcaster NRK, which has a strong track record of naming winners before the official announcement.
It is the second-straight year the Nobel Committee had awarded the prize to an organization, with the European Union announced as laureate in 2012 for their work in bringing about reconciliation and integration in Europe.
Favorite beaten to prize
Education activist Malala Yousafzai, 16, had been a warm favorite with both experts and betting agencies.
Along with teenaged Taliban shooting survivor Malala, Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege and Belarusian human rights activist Ales Byalatski were others considered a strong chance of winning the prize.
ph/kms (AFP, Reuters, AP)