The winner of the Nobel Peace Prize 2013 has been announced, with the award and $1.25 million prize going to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
The OPCW is charged with overseeing the destruction of Syria’s arsenal of chemical weapons, following the atrocity – widely blamed on the regime of Bashar al-Assad – committed in Damascus on 21 August this year.
Experts from the Hague-based global watchdog are leading the programme which will see Syria’s chemical weapons production facilities demolished by 1 November, with a view to safely destroying Assad’s complete stockpile by the middle of 2014.
The Norwegian Nobel committee hailed the global chemical watchdog for creating “the chance to eliminate a whole category of deadly weapons”.
The statement announcing the winner read: “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. Some states are still not members of the OPCW. Certain states have not observed the deadline, which was April 2012, for destroying their chemical weapons. This applies especially to the USA and Russia.
“Disarmament figures prominently in Alfred Nobel’s will. The Norwegian Nobel Committee has through numerous prizes underlined the need to do away with nuclear weapons. By means of the present award to the OPCW, the Committee is seeking to contribute to the elimination of chemical weapons.”
The identity of the this year’s winner was leaked an hour ahead of the official announcement by Norweigan public broadcaster NRK – which confirmed the winner would not to be hotly-tipped favourite 16-year-old girls’ education activist Malala Yousafzai.
NRK also correctly anticipated the winner of last year’s award an hour early – taken by the EU.
Malala had been favourite to win, having already been honoured as Harvard University's humanitarian of the year and named the winner of the EU's annual Sakharov human rights award.
The 16-year-old came to global attention, campaigning for female education in the country, in the face of violent fundamentalism. Her efforts led to her being shot in the head on a school bus a year ago.