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     Home > Justice and Peace >  2013-10-11 16:15:40
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Chemicals weapons watchdog wins Nobel Peace Prize

October 11, 2013 - The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) won this year's Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for its efforts to stop the chemical warfare that has haunted the world from Hitler's gas chambers to the battlefields of Syria. Based in The Hague, Netherlands, the OPCW was formed in 1997 to enforce the Chemical Weapons Convention, the first international treaty to outlaw an entire class of weapons. “The conventions and the work of the OPCW have defined the use of chemical weapons as a taboo under international law,”' the Norwegian Nobel Committee said announcing the prize in Oslo. ``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,'' it added. The $1.25 million prize will be presented in Oslo on Dec. 10, the anniversary of the death of Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, who founded the awards in his 1895 will.
OPCW has 189 member states and Friday's award comes just days before Syria officially joins, and even as OPCW inspectors are on a highly risky United Nations-backed disarmament mission based in Damascus to verify and destroy President Bashar Assad's arsenal of poison gas and nerve agents amid a raging civil war. By giving the award to the largely faceless international organization the Nobel committee found a way to highlight the Syria conflict, now in its third year, without siding with any group involved in the fighting. U.N. war crimes investigators have accused both sides of wrongdoing, though they said earlier this year that the scale and intensity of rebel abuses hasn't reached that of the regime. In the past, Albania, India, Iraq, Libya, Russia and the United States, along with a country identified by the OPCW only as ``a State Party'' but widely believed to be South Korea, have declared stockpiles of chemical weapons and have or are in the process of destroying them. However, the committee noted that some countries have not observed their deadlines.
Pope Francis had received OPCW Director-General Ahmet Üzümcü in a private meeting in the Vatican on Sept. 27, during which the leader of the world’s Catholics gave his full support to the organization’s efforts of seeking to ban chemical weapons worldwide. After the meeting, the OPCW said on its website that the Holy Father stressed that the international community must stand united in its abhorrence of chemical weapons. The two leaders agreed that chemical weapons have no place in the world, and that the international community must continue its efforts to eliminate them and ensure they never re-emerge. It was also emphasized that a crucial step in these efforts is to achieve the universality of the Chemical Weapons Convention, and that chemistry must only be used for peaceful purposes in the service of humanity. Earlier on Sept. 1 the Pontiff had firmly condemned such weapons following their alleged used in Syria late August.


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