Ahmet Uzumcu, director general of the OPCW, comments on the organization being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, during a press conference in The Hague, Netherlands, Friday, Oct. 11, 2013.

Nobel Peace Prize Awarded to International Chemical Weapons Watchdog

The chemical weapons watchdog has been working to eradicate chemical weapons since the 1990s.

Ahmet Uzumcu, director general of the OPCW, comments on the organization being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, during a press conference in The Hague, Netherlands, Friday, Oct. 11, 2013.
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The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons on Friday, whose involvement in overseeing the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria helped avert a military strike against President Bashar Assad.

The chemical weapons watchdog has been a player in the eradication of chemicals weapons since implementing the Chemical Weapons Convention, a treaty outlawing the development, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons, in 1997. The CWC has garnered 189 members since its inception and OPCW has overseen the destruction of chemical weapons in more than 80 countries.

 

[READ: Weapons Inspectors Arrive in Syria with Herculean Mandate]

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

Syria pledged to sign the CWC in September after agreeing a Russian initiative to hand over its chemical weapons. It is expected to become the 190th member as early as Oct. 14.

"The events in Syria have been a tragic reminder that much work remains to be done," Ahmet Uzumcu, OPCW director general and Turkish diplomat, said at a press conference. "The Syria mission in particular is a challenge to our organization. Nevertheless, we believe that we have all the expertise which has been developed in our organization."

[READ: The Game Saudi Arabia and Iran Are Playing in Syria]

Upon Syria's membership to the OPCW, Angola, Egypt, North Korea and South Sudan will be the only states to have not signed or acceded to the CWC Israel and Myanmar have not ratified the CWC, though both signed the convention in 1993.

"This is part of the hidden political message behind the decision," disarmament consultant Jean-Pascal Zanders told Bloomberg. "With Syria due to become a state part in three days, formally, the pressure on Israel and Egypt is going to be enormous."

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