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Nobel Peace Prize goes to chemical weapons watchdog

9:09 AM, Oct 11, 2013   |    comments
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Inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) leave a hotel in Damascus on October 9, 2013. (Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty Images)

(USA TODAY) -- The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, or OPCW, is the surprise winner of this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee made the award for the Hague-based group's "extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons."

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Justifying its decision, the committee said: "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."

However, the committee underlined the point that the award was not directly linked to the group's recent work in Syria, but a result of its long-standing efforts to eradicate chemical weapons.

"The conventions and the work of the OPCW have defined the use of chemical weapons as a taboo under international law," the committee said.

"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," the committee added.

Analysts were equivocal about the decision.

Paul Schulte, senior visiting fellow in the Centre for Defense Studies at King's College London, said: "It's motivational rather than for what the organization has already achieved in Syria. It's a good thing, I think, because it will improve its legitimacy and standing in the world. But the OPCW has not yet faced a major test."

Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai and Denis Mukwege of the Congo, a gynecologist and surgeon, were favored to win the prize.

Immediately following the announcement, Razi Baloch, 19, a student in Quetta, Pakistan said: "I feel that Malala never needed a Nobel Peace Prize rather the Peace Prize needed her," adding, "Her courage and determination have made us stand strong against the ills of our society where women are treated as mere objects."

The OPCW has been working to eradicate chemical weapons for the past 15 years and has carried out thousands of inspections of chemical weapons in over 80 countries. It has 189 members - who fund the group - and was formed in 1997 to enforce the Chemical Weapons Convention.

In an amusing twist, the Nobel committee has so far been unable to reach the OPCW to inform it of the news.

(USA TODAY)

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