OPCW receives Nobel Peace Prize

The Nobel Peace Prize 2013 is awarded to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

Nobelkomiteen kunngjør vinneren av Nobels fredspris fredag.

Stream the announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize 2013.

– The OPCW receives the Peace Prize for its extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons, said the leader of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Thorbjørn Jagland.

In his announcement Jagland said that the conventions and the work of the OPCW have defined the use of chemical weapons as a taboo under international law.

– 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, Jagland said.

The OPCW has recently made headlines featuring in stories about Syria where they are cooperating with the UN in an effort to destroy chemical weapons.

The organization is rooted in the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). The treaty was first signed exactly 20 years ago, in 1993, and entered into force in 1997.

All countries that have signed the treaty have to agree to ban chemical weapons completely. States giving consent to the treaty also agree to destroy stockpiles of these types of weapons under their control.

80 percent reduction of chemical weapons

Until this fall only Angola, Egypt, Israel, Myanmar, North Korea, South Sudan and Syria were the only countries that had not signed the treaty.

Following pressure from the international community and their ally Russia, Syria has recently expressed interest in becoming a member of the treaty, and has taken the initial steps to sign and ratify it.

Israel and Myanmar has signed, but not ratified the convention.

The CWC is considered the most successful treaty for disarmament. Along with the work of the OPCW, it has contributed to nearly 80 percent of the world's chemical weapons arsenals being destroyed.

Images that shook the world

The images coming out from the gas attack in the Syrian capital Damascus August 21 was a strong reminder of the horrors of chemical weapons. Photographs and video of dying civilians and children shocked the world community.

According to the UNs weapon inspectors investigating the attack, sarin gas was used in the attack.

The US warned that the Assad regime would be punished for the attacks. The plans were shelved when Syria agreed to a proposal from Russia, that suggested Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons should be surveyed and destroyed.

Less than a week ago multiple news agencies reported that international weapons experts had started the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons and production facilities.