Nobel Peace Prize Goes To Chemical Weapons Watchdog



opcwPhoto: Courtesy of OPCW.
Disarmament fans, here's some heartening news. Today in Oslo, Norway, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to an organization dedicated to destroying chemical arms. Citing recent events in the Middle East, the Nobel committee bestowed the honor on The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The Hague-based intergovernmental body implements the Chemical Weapons Convention. Although it has been working since the 1990s, the organization recently appeared in the international spotlight when it was required to oversee the destruction of such arms in Syria. "The conventions and the work of the OPCW have defined the use of chemical weapons as a taboo under international law," the committee said in a statement.

The OPCW was founded in 1997 to implement the Chemical Weapons Convention, which prohibits the development, acquisition, transfer, and use of chemical weapons. It is not an agency of the United Nations, but works with it on policy issues. The OPCW conducts inspections and inventories declared weapon stockpiles. So far, 81.1 percent of the world's chemical weapons have been destroyed, according to the organization. The OPCW currently includes 189 member states, with Syria expected to join in the coming days.

Of those states, some (including the U.S.) still have declared stockpiles of weapons that have not yet been destroyed. "Certain states have not observed the deadline, which was April 2012, for destroying their chemical weapons," the committee said in its statement. "This applies especially to the USA and Russia." A report from the OPCW from earlier this year, however, said that the U.S. had destroyed 90 percent of its stockpile, and Russia had destroyed 70 percent.

It was something of a shock when the OPCW took the prize. Many had assumed would go to Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old Pakistani student who was wounded in an assassination attempt by the Taliban because of her advocacy work for female education. She would have been the youngest person in history to receive the prize.

The loss, however, likely won't faze the activist. Yousafzai appeared on The Daily Show Tuesday, where she earned a standing ovation and wowed Jon Stewart when telling him what she would do if she were attacked by a Taliban gunman again. "I would tell him how important education is and that I would even want education for your children as well," she said. "That's what I want to tell you, now do what you want." (NYTimes)