Chemical weapons inspectors at OPCW lab, Rijswijk, the Netherlands (Photo: Frank de Roo/Getty)
The 2013 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the group that is currently overseeing the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles. An OPCW team is in Damascus looking over information provided to them by the Bashar al-Assad regime and working on a plan to eliminate the country's stockpile of nerve agents sarin and VX.
The OPCW formed in 1997 in order to implement a global treaty prohibiting the making and stockpiling of chemical weapons, CBC News reports. One member of the team is Canadian chemical weapons inspector Scott Cairns, who's been with the OPCW since 2008. He spoke to the CBC's Nahlah Ayed back in September.
"I think we are truly helping people. These are truly horrible weapons. There's no reason to use them in this day and age," Cairns said.
The award committee says the decision to honour OPCW was partly due to the legacy of Alfred Nobel, the Swedish chemist who established the Peace Prize in his will. He saw disarmament as a major goal, and the committee noted that numerous past winners have worked toward nuclear disarmament. This is the 22nd time the Prize has gone to an organization.
Ahmet Üzümcü, OPCW's Director-General, told a representative of the Nobel committee that he sees the awarding of the Prize as "a recognition of the contributions made by our organization to global peace and security over the past 16 years of its existence."
Ahead of this morning's announcement, there was speculation about who would win, with some predicting the prize would go to individuals like Denis Mukwege, a gynecologist celebrated for helping thousands of women who were raped in war-torn Congo, or Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old Pakistani activist who was shot in the head by the Taliban last year.
In the wake of the announcement, the official Nobel Prize Twitter feed sent out a few interesting messages. One commented on the history of the Prize and those who have received it:
"The 112 yr #NobelPeacePrize history hasn't been perfect, some should have received it, others not" Secr of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.— Nobelprize_org (@Nobelprize_org) October 11, 2013
Another was focused on a more practical challenge: