Chemical weapons watchdog wins Nobel Peace Prize

OPCWNorwegian Nobel Committee awarded its 2013 Peace Prize on Friday to the relatively modest UN-backed body, OPCW. (AP)

Urging the destruction of "an entire category" of unconventional weapons, the Norwegian

Nobel Committee awarded its 2013 Peace Prize on Friday to a relatively modest and little-known United Nations-backed body that is currently seeking to destroy Syria's stocks of chemical arms under a deal brokered by Russia and the United States.

The award to Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, usually known by its initials OPCW, took Nobel-watchers by surprise.

In its citation, the committee said the OPCW and the conventions under which it was founded in 1997 "have defined the use of chemical weapons as a taboo under international law."

Thorbjorn Jagland, former Norwegian PM who is chairman of the panel, said chemical weapons had been used by Hitler's armies in their campaign of mass extermination and on many other occasions by states and terrorists. He denied that the award to a body based in The Hague represented a Eurocentric shift after last year's award to the European Union."It's global," he said.

What is the OPCW?

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has been working since the 1990s as the body that implements the Chemical Weapons Convention, the first international treaty to outlaw an entire class of weapons.

What does the treaty do and who is a member?

The convention prohibits the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, transfer or use of chemical weapons. It came into force in 1997 and has been ratified by 189 states.

NON-SIGNATORIES include North Korea, Angola, Egypt and South Sudan. Israel and Myanmar have signed but not ratified the convention. Syria will be a member soon

What does the OPCW do?

The OPCW has conducted more than 5,000 inspections in 86 countries. It says 100 per cent of the declared chemical weapons stockpiles have been inventoried and verified.

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