Weapons watchdog OPCW receives Nobel Peace Prize

The world’s chemical watchdog picks up this year’s Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo on Tuesday, hoping to speed up the global eradication of chemical arms.

Eliminating the weapons is “a noble cause and I see no reason for any country to do otherwise,” said the Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ahmet Uzumcu.

The watchdog is a rare example of successful global disarmament, but it has yet to declare its mission accomplished.

“Hopefully in the near future we will be able to do away with a whole category of weapons, chemical weapons,” said the chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Thorbjoern Jagland.

A global ban on the production and storage of chemical weapons came into force in 1997, and 190 nations have signed the Chemical Weapons Convention.

They account for more than 98 per cent of the world population, and more than 80 per cent of all declared chemical weapons have been destroyed — but six states remain to be persuaded.

Israel and Myanmar have signed the convention but not ratified it, while Angola, Egypt, North Korea and South Sudan have failed to do either.

The United States and Russia have both pledged to scrap their chemical weapons, but failed to meet a 2012 deadline to do so.

The decision to hand the award to the OPCW cast the spotlight on an organisation that was previously, by its own admission, little known outside diplomatic circles.

A roadmap adopted last month by the OPCW to rid Syria of its chemical stockpile says “priority” weapons must be removed from the country by December 31.

More In: World | International | News