OSLO, Oct 11 – The OPCW, an obscure body recently thrust into the spotlight by the Syria crisis, today won the Nobel Peace Prize for its work to rid the world of chemical weapons, reports PTI.
The UN-backed Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was honoured “for its extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons,” Nobel Committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland said in announcing the surprise choice.
“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 Norwegian jury said in its statement.
The chemical watchdog was not considered among the frontrunners for the prize until the eve of the announcement.
Teenage Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai and Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege had been among the favourites for this year’s prize.
This marks the second consecutive year an organisation has won the prestigious award. Last year’s award went to the European Union.
The Hague-based OPCW was founded in 1997 to implement the Chemical Weapons Convention signed on January 13, 1993.
Until recently operating in relative obscurity, the OPCW has suddenly been catapulted into the global spotlight because of its work supervising the dismantling of Syria’s chemical arsenal and facilities.
This has to be completed by mid-2014 under the terms of a UN Security Council resolution.
A team of around 30 OPCW arms experts and UN logistics and security personnel are on the ground in Syria and have started to destroy weapons production facilities.
The OPCW said on Tuesday it was sending a second wave of inspectors to bolster the disarmament mission in the war-ravaged nation.