Nobel Peace Prize: Chemical Weapons Watchdog Group Wins Prestigious Award For 'Extensive Work' in Syria (Video)
Oct 11, 2013 12:45 PM EDT
The Nobel Prize committee honored the United Nations-backed Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), a small organization which dispatched experts to Syria after a gas attack killed more than 1,400 people near Damascus in August, Agence France Presse reported.
"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 Norwegian jury said in a statement. The prize marks the 22nd time that an individual organization won the award, USA Today reported.
"The conventions and the work of the OPCW have the defined the use of chemical weapons as a taboo under international law," the committee added, saying its mission to eradicate the use of those weapons, threatening the world since World War I, saved the world from an escalation of violence.
Ahmet Uzumco, the OPCW Director-General, said that he hopes the prize serves as an inspiration for everyone involved to reach for peace in Syria.
"I truly hope that this award ... will help broader efforts to achieve peace in that country and (ease) the suffering of its people," Uzumcu said told reporters on Friday.
In a UN Resolution passed just a few weeks ago, the mission has been tasked to eliminating all chemical weapons in the country by mid-2014. The team is now in Syria, comprised of 35 members. The OPCW, however, is preparing to deploy a second team to strengthen the effort, planning on 100 members in its team soon.
"The mission of the OPCW was born from a fundamental abhorrence at the atrocities of war," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. From the battlefields to the laboratories to the negotiating table, the United Nations is honored to work hand-in-hand with the OPCW to eliminate the threat posed by chemical weapons for all people and for all time. "Together, we must ensure that the fog of war will never again be composed of poison gas," he added.
The Syrian civil war has killed over 100,000 people, according to UN estimates.
"The Nobel Committee has rightly recognized their bravery and resolve to carry out this vital mission amid an ongoing war in Syria," Secretary of State John Kerry said.
Many in the media believed 16-year-old Malala Yousafzai, the teenage education activist from Pakistan whom a Taliban assassin shot for her work to promote education for girls, had been a front-runner for the award.