STOCKHOLM: The daunting challenge of ridding the world of chemical weapons got a massive push with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) – an international organization that has been working since 1997 to convince countries to give up chemical weapons besides checking and confirming the destruction of existing chemical weapons being awarded the Nobel peace prize 2013.
OPCW tipped clear favourite 16 year old Pakistani Malala Yousufzai to win the world’s top peace prize.
OPCW has been tirelessly monitoring activities in the chemical industry to reduce the risk of commercial chemicals being misused for weapons purposes, providing assistance and protection to member countries if they are attacked or threatened with attack by chemical weapons, including by terrorists and promoting international cooperation for the peaceful uses of chemistry.
OPCW is presently overseeing the destruction of Syria’s arsenal and aims to help destroy Syria’s chemical weapons production facilities and weapons-filling equipment by November 1.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee decided to award OPCW the prize for its extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons.
The Committee said “During World War One, chemical weapons were used to a considerable degree. The Geneva Convention of 1925 prohibited the use, but not the production or storage, of chemical weapons. During World War 2, chemical means were employed in Hitler’s mass exterminations. Chemical weapons have subsequently been put to use on numerous occasions by both states and terrorists”.
In 1992-93 therefore, 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. Around 189 states have acceded to the convention to date.
The Committee added “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”.
The Committee also rapped “certain states” who have not observed the deadline, which was April 2012, for destroying their chemical weapons.
“This applies especially to the USA and Russia,” the Committee said.
According to the Committee, 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,” the citation said.
The Committee however made it clear that the nomination of OPCW was made before April 1 and “came into the picture before the impasse in Syria”.
“We have been looking at OPCW for a long time, even its historical relevance,” the Committee said.
The Nobel peace prize has been awarded to 124 Laureates – to 100 individuals and 24 organizations.
Since the International Committee of the Red Cross was awarded three times and Office of the United Nations high commissioner for Refugees was awarded twice there are 100 individuals and 21 organizations that have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Around a dozen Indians were in the running for the Nobel peace prize this year.
The Nobel Institute in Oslo saw a record 259 nominees in the running for the top prize for peace this year which includes 209 individuals and 50 organisations.
The list includes around 12 names from India – the second highest from a single country after US.
The $1.25 million prize will be presented in Oslo on December 10, the anniversary of the death of Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, who founded the awards in his 1895 will.