Security and Defence


Nobel Peace Prize for OPCW: acknowledgement and encouragement

11 Oct 2013 - 16:19
Source: Jef Seghers

The Nobel Peace Prize 2013 has been awarded to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague. The OPCW receives the award for its enduring efforts to make the world a safer place by eliminating the inhuman chemical weapons. The Nobel Peace Prize can be regarded as an acknowledgement as well as an encouragement for the OPCW’s work.

First of all it is a well-deserved acknowledgement that the OPCW did a very good job since its establishment in 1997. The organization was able to gain almost universal membership; only six states in the world are currently not a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention – of which the OPCW is the verification organisation. The international taboo on chemical weapons that thus has been created, is an important step towards a safer world.

Moreover, all member states that had arsenals of chemical weapons destroyed them, or are currently destroying them, under supervision of OPCW inspectors. At the same time, OPCW inspections of chemical facilities all over the world prevent any secret production of new chemical weapons.

Challenging circumstances

The Nobel Peace Prize is also an encouragement: even though the OPCW did a tremendous good job, mankind is not completely safe from the horrible effects of chemical weapons – a category of Weapons of Mass Destruction that can easily kill masses of people in a horrible way, without discriminating between military and civilians. The Nobel Peace Prize once again raises attention to the few states that did not yet sign or ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention.

To reach a world free of chemical weapons, Angola, Egypt, Israel, Myanmar, North Korea, and South Sudan should also ratify the treaty and destroy their arsenals (if any) of chemical weapons. Moreover, the United States and Russia missed already two deadlines for the destruction of their arsenals; hopefully the Nobel Prize symbolically pressures these states even more to increase the speed of their dismantlement process.

Last but not least, the Nobel Peace Prize accentuates the huge efforts that the OPCW is currently facing in destroying the arsenals of its newest member state: Syria. The circumstances in this case are challenging: very strict deadlines while operating in a chaotic and violent environment.

Well-deserved award

The Clingendael Institute, which regularly cooperates with the OPCW, congratulates the OPCW with this well-deserved award. The OPCW’s aim to free the world of chemical weapons may be difficult, but the success of the organisation up to today shows that it is within reach.