Friday brought the announcement from the Nobel Prize committee in Sweden that the watchdog group, the Prohibition against Chemical Weapons has won this year’s coveted honor, the Nobel Peace Prize.
The award “reinforces the international community’s commitment to the international prohibition against the use of chemical weapon,” said White House press secretary, Jay Carney in a release from the White House.
President Obama, as the 2009 recipient of the highly respected award, sent his congratulations to the organization.
The OPCW is based in Hague, Netherlands since its founding in 1997. “Since then the OPCW has, through inspections, destruction and by other means, sought the implementation of the convention. 189 states have acceded to the convention date,” the Nobel committee said in a release on Friday Oct. 11 with the award announcement.
Currently, there are 19 OPCW members in Damascus Syria working to destroy chemical weapons. “Today’s award recognizes that commitment, and reinforces the trust and confidence the world has placed in the OPCW, Director-General Ahmed Uzumcu, and the courageous OPCW experts and inspectors taking on the unprecented challenge of elimination Syria’s chemical weapons program,” added press secretary Carney.
The Nobel Committee released the following statement for their decision of the award this year:
“The conventions and the work of the OPCW have defined the use of chemical weapons as a taboo under international law.” It 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.”
When an expected old16-year-old Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban while defending the right to education to girls in her native Swat Valley, did not receive the Nobel Peace Prize there was great disappointment from her supporters.
NPR’s Michele Kelemen tells Morning Edition that in recent years, the trend has been for the Peace Prize to “spotlight and help organizations.” Last year’s Prize went to the European Union for its six decades of contributions toward “peace, and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.”
Rashid Iqbal, a journalist and local politician in Mingora, said Yousafzai has helped to rebuild the spirit of the town, even without a Nobel Peace Prize.
“Swat had been known for militancy and the Taliban,” Iqbal said. “But thanks to God, now Malala is our identity.”