Chemical weapons watchdog wins the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has won the 2013 Nobel peace prize.

The Hague-based global chemical weapons watchdog, supported by the United Nations, is currently aiming to help destroy Syria’s chemical weapons capacity by the beginning of November.

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5 Comments

  • Jonathan Brown 12th Oct '13 - 2:16am

    That’s one way to devalue the meaning of the prize.

  • How does this award “devalue” the prize? Did you think the prize was devalued in 2005 when it was awarded to the IAEA for efforts to keep nuclear power from being used for military purposes? Was it devalued in 1997 when it was awarded to the ICBL for its efforts to ban landmines? Was it devalued in 1995 when it was awarded to Pugwash for its efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons? Was it devalued in 1985 when awarded to the IPPNW? I do not think your statement makes any sense.

  • Jonathan Brown 12th Oct '13 - 6:59pm

    As I understand it, the prize is given to promote the role individuals and organisations have had in either bringing about peace or at least to highlight their ongoing work in a specific conflict.

    To award it to the OPCW at a time like this is premature to say the least. The organisation (and I’m quite happy for the blame for this to be placed with UN Security Council members rather than the OPCW itself) has been impotent in the face of repeated chemical weapon attacks in Syria and while it now finally is doing something, that something is seen by Syrians to be a whitewashing.

    See this report by a Syrian friend of mine who’s been reporting from Syria and neighbouring countries since this began: http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2013/10/11/232128214/syrians-are-widely-critical-of-nobel-peace-prize-decision?live=1 “Fayez Sayigh, a member of the Syrian ruling party, told The Associated Press that the award underscores the credibility of the Syrian government.”

    I really hope Syria’s chemical weapons can and will be destroyed, but even if that happens (a huge ‘if’ I think), there is a very obvious danger that this process diverts attention from the real issues. Indeed, I suspect that’s why the regime is co-operating to the extent that it is.

    I have no reason to doubt the sincerity of the people who work for the OPCW, and perhaps the giving of the prize to the organisation was an attempt to boost it, but I fear it has backfired. It won’t help the organisation’s credibility or leverage with anyone if the disarmament process is seen by all of the conflict’s participants as nothing more than diplomatic cover for the ramping up of hostilities.

  • By the same logic the ICBL didn’t deserve the Prize because, omg, there are still landmines out there and there are still wars and we don’t have World Peace yet so nobody deserves a Peace Prize!

    This kind of criticism is silly. The OPCW was obviously nominated long before the recent events in Syria, and its technical work is of great importance in actually securing the elimination of poison gas and similar weapons, rather than just talking about it.

    Of course, I agree that “conventional” weapons are the cause of more destruction than chemical weapons, and I would like to see the complete elimination of *all* weapons of war, but realistically that’s not going to happen in my lifetime.

  • Jonathan Brown 13th Oct '13 - 9:19pm

    I know next to nothing about the other organisations that won the prize, or the decision making that went it them being awarded it, so can’t really comment on those. But I’m not claiming that no one can have a peace prize while there is still suffering in the world.

    The OPCW may have an admirable objective, but doesn’t seem to have achieved very much in recent years, hasn’t spoken out when chemical weapons have been used by Western forces in Iraq and Gaza, hasn’t done anything useful in Syria to prevent the use of chemical weapons – until now*… I have no objection to the prize going to people or organisations taking brave strides towards making the world a more peaceful place, even if they haven’t succeeded.

    But this award comes at a bizarrely illogical time. A time when the OPCW’s actions seem quite likely to be used to facilitate the continuation of war rather than reduce it. The regime seems to see it this way, as does the opposition. If Syria can be disarmed of it’s chemical weapons, that is of course a good thing. But surely it’s too soon to say if this is even a possibility!

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