The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons awarded Prize amid Syria conflict

OB-ZG245 nobelpeace 2013OSLO—The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for "extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons."

The award, given in Oslo by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, comes as the intergovernmental OPCW is currently overseeing the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons. The Netherlands-based group was launched in 1997 when the Chemical Weapons Convention arms control treaty took effect. The Convention has 189 signatories and Syria has applied to be the 190th.



"The conventions and the work of the OPCW have defined the use of chemical weapons as a taboo under international law," said the Norwegian Nobel Committee. "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."

The OPCW is led by Ahmet Üzümcü, a Turkish career diplomat who took office as organization's director general in 2010. Mr. Üzümcü, 62, has held a number of high-profile jobs, including serving as Turkey's permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva, representing Turkey at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization council and serving as Turkey's ambassador to Israel.(...)

Norway's Nobel Committee comprises five people who are elected for six-year terms by the Norwegian parliament.(...)

The OPCW has been tasked with destroying Syria's chemical weapons, following a U.N. Security Council resolution that was passed in September. The Syrian regime has agreed to dismantle its entire chemical-weapons program, believed to be one of the largest in the world, by mid-2014 following an agreement between the U.S. and Damascus' patron Russia.

The OPCW is attempting to meet a Nov. 1 deadline to destroy the Syrian regime's chemical-weapons production equipment—a daunting task given the heavy fighting between rebels and the Syrian military. The OPCW has called for a cease-fire in Syria to allow its teams to carry out its work.

The Nobel 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. By means of the present award to the OPCW, the committee is seeking to contribute to the elimination of chemical weapons."

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Author: Kjetil Malkenes Hovland 

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