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Nobel prize for peace awarded to chemical weapons watchdog

(Oslo 11 October) The Nobel Peace Prize for 2013 awarded to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2013 to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) for its extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons. Among the short list for the prestigious award included Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai shot by the Taliban in the Swat Valley for her vocal and international support for the rights of girls to remain and or obtain an education.

The use of chemical weapons, has most recently been shown to gruesome effect in 2013 in Syria. Though blame for the use of chemical weapons has yet to be fully allocated, its devastating effects are more than clear to see.

Used during World War One, chemical weapons were prohibited by the Geneva Convention of 1925. Used also during World War Two, chemical weapons have subsequently been put to use on numerous occasions by both states and terrorists. In 1992-93 a convention was drawn up prohibiting also the production and storage of such weapons. It came into force in 1997. Since then the OPCW has, through inspections, destruction and by other means, sought the implementation of the convention. 189 states have acceded to the convention to date.

The conventions and the work of the OPCW have defined the use of chemical weapons as a taboo under international law. 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. Some states are still not members of the OPCW. Certain states have not observed the deadline, which was April 2012, for destroying their chemical weapons. This applies especially to the USA and Russia.

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. By means of the present award to the OPCW, the Committee is seeking to contribute to the elimination of chemical weapons.

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