Syria monitors win Nobel Peace Prize

Syria monitors win Nobel Peace Prize

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The OPCW, the body overseeing destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons, has won the Nobel Peace Prize.
The Nobel Committee said it was in honour of the OPCW’s “extensive work to eliminate chemical weapons”.
The Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was established to enforce the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention.
It recently sent inspectors to carry out the dismantling of Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons.
It’s the first time OPCW inspectors have worked in an active war zone.
The watchdog picks up a gold medal and 8m Swedish kronor ($1.25m; £780,000) as winner of the most coveted of the Nobel honours.
Pakistani schoolgirl campaigner Malala Yousafzai and gynaecologist Denis Mukwege of the Democratic Republic of Congo had been tipped as favourites to take the award.
Others who had been listed as contenders were Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley Manning), the US soldier convicted of giving classified documents to WikiLeaks and Maggie Gobran, an Egyptian computer scientist who abandoned her academic career to become a Coptic Christian nun and founded the charity Stephen’s Children.
But an hour before Friday’s announcement, Norway’s public broadcaster reported the award would go to the OPCW.
Record nominees
Announcing the award, chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Thorbjørn Jagland, said they wanted to recognise the OPCW’s “extensive work” to rid the world of chemical weapons.
“The conventions and the work of the OPCW have defined the use of chemical weapons as a taboo under international law,” he 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.”
The OPCW is made up of 189 member states and its principal role is to monitor and destroy all existing chemical weapons.
It draws on a network of some of the best laboratories and scientists in the world to help them in their work, the BBC’s science correspondent Pallab Ghosh says.
The OPCW has been in the headlines recently for sending its inspectors into the middle of Syria’s civil war to supervise the dismantling of the country’s chemical arsenal and facilities.
The 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention has contributed to the destruction of nearly 80% of the world’s chemical weapons stockpile.
Syria is expected to sign the treaty in the coming days, becoming the 131st country to do so.
There was a record 259 nominees for this year’s Peace Prize, but the list remains a secret.
The European Union won the prize in 2012 in recognition of its contribution to peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.
Previous Nobel peace prize laureates include anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela, US President Barack Obama, the Dalai Lama and Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Bangladesh’s banker for the poor Dr Muhammad Yunus. – BBC News

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