Oct 11, 2013 8:06 AM
The OPCW was formed in 1997 to enforce the Chemical Weapons Convention, the first international treaty to outlaw an entire class of weapons. Based in
"The conventions and the work of the OPCW have defined the use of chemical weapons as a taboo under international law," the Nobel committee said. "Recent events in
Friday's award comes just days before
The OPCW's director-general, Ahmet Uzumcu (AKH'-meht ooh-ZOOM'-joo), said the award was a recognition of the group's work for global peace in the past 16 years.
"But (it's) also an acknowledgement of our staff's efforts, who are now deployed in Syria, who have been, in fact, making a very brave effort there to fulfill their mandate," he told the Norwegian public broadcaster NRK.
There was no immediate report on what the organization would do with the $1.2 million prize.
By giving the peace award to an international organization, the Nobel committee found a way to highlight the devastating Syrian civil war, now in its third year, without siding with any group involved. The fighting has killed an estimated 100,000 people and forced millions of Syrians to flee their homes and country, according to the U.N.
U.N. war crimes investigators have accused both Assad's government and the rebels of wrongdoing, although they said earlier this year that the scale and intensity of rebel abuses hasn't reached that of the regime.
In the past, seven nations -
However, the committee noted that some countries have not observed the deadline of April 2012 for destroying their chemical weapons.
"This applies especially to the
After an Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack that killed hundreds in
The first OPCW inspection team arrived in
The struggle to control chemical weapons began in earnest after World War I, when agents such as mustard gas killed more than 100,000 people and injured a million more.
The 1925 Geneva Convention prohibited the use of the weapons but the production or storage of chemical weapons wasn't outlawed until the Chemical Weapons Convention came into force in 1997.
"During World War II, chemical means were employed in Hitler's mass exterminations," the prize committee said. "Chemical weapons have subsequently been put to use on numerous occasions by both states and terrorists."
According to the OPCW, 57,740 metric tons, or 81.1 percent, of the world's declared stockpile of chemical agents have been verifiably destroyed.
An OPCW report earlier this year said the
Nations not belonging to the OPCW include
The OPCW did not figure prominently in this year's Nobel speculation, which focused mostly on Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old Pakistani girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban last October for advocating education for girls.
"She is an outstanding woman and I think she has a bright future and she will probably be a nominee next year or the year after that," Jagland, the committee chairman, told The Associated Press. He declined to comment on whether she had been considered for this year's award.
The European Union won the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize for uniting a continent ravaged by two world wars and divided by the Cold War.
The peace prize was the last of the original Nobel Prizes to be announced for this year. The winners of the economics award, added in 1968, will be announced on Monday.
2 days ago