NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, October 11th, 2013

Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons

A wor­thy choice:

The Nor­we­gian Nobel Com­mit­tee has decid­ed that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2013 is to be award­ed to the Orga­ni­za­tion for the Pro­hi­bi­tion of Chem­i­cal Weapons (OPCW) for its exten­sive efforts to elim­i­nate chem­i­cal weapons.

Dur­ing World War One, chem­i­cal weapons were used to a con­sid­er­able degree. The Gene­va Con­ven­tion of 1925 pro­hib­it­ed the use, but not the pro­duc­tion or stor­age, of  chem­i­cal weapons.

Dur­ing World War Two, chem­i­cal means were employed in Hitler’s mass exter­mi­na­tions. Chem­i­cal weapons have sub­se­quent­ly been put to use on numer­ous occa­sions by both states and ter­ror­ists. In 1992–93, a con­ven­tion was drawn up pro­hibit­ing also the pro­duc­tion and stor­age of such weapons. It came into force in 1997. Since then the OPCW has, through inspec­tions, destruc­tion and by oth­er means, sought the imple­men­ta­tion of the con­ven­tion. 189 states have acced­ed to the con­ven­tion to date.

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. 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 [Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca] and Rus­sia.

Dis­ar­ma­ment fig­ures promi­nent­ly in Alfred Nobel’s will. The Nor­we­gian Nobel Com­mit­tee has through numer­ous prizes under­lined the need to do away with nuclear weapons.

By means of the present award to the OPCW, the Com­mit­tee is seek­ing to con­tribute to the elim­i­na­tion of chem­i­cal weapons.

Empha­sis is ours.

Con­grat­u­la­tions are in order to the peo­ple who car­ry out OPCW’s work, and par­tic­u­lar­ly the inspec­tors who are in Syr­ia now over­see­ing the destruc­tion of the Assad regime’s chem­i­cal weapons arse­nal. Their efforts so far and their future efforts are cer­tain­ly wor­thy of the recog­ni­tion the Nobel Peace Prize bestows.

Near­ly every coun­try in the world is a mem­ber of the OPCW; few­er than a dozen coun­tries are not. OPCW actu­al­ly main­tains a list of non-mem­bers on its web­site, which con­sist of the fol­low­ing nations:

  1. Ango­la
  2. Egypt
  3. North Korea
  4. South Sudan
  5. Syr­ia

South Sudan is a very young nation and will hope­ful­ly rat­i­fy the Chem­i­cal Weapons Con­ven­tion before long. The oth­er nations have no excuse for not hav­ing signed and rat­i­fied the treaty. Syr­ia did just agree a few weeks ago to join the Con­ven­tion, but it is not offi­cial­ly a mem­ber yet. That leaves three oth­er long­stand­ing non-mem­bers: Ango­la, Egypt, and North Korea.

Addi­tion­al­ly, there are two nations that have signed the Con­ven­tion but not rat­i­fied it: Israel and Myan­mar. Israel and Myan­mar should make rat­i­fi­ca­tion a pri­or­i­ty and join the list of mem­ber states, which, as men­tioned, include near­ly all of the world’s nations. Israel hap­pens to have the dis­tinc­tion of being the only democ­ra­cy that has not rat­i­fied. That’s embar­rass­ing. Israeli lead­ers have sug­gest­ed they won’t rat­i­fy the treaty until its neigh­bors (Egypt and Syr­ia) do. That is not lead­er­ship.

Many of Israel’s sons and daugh­ters have ances­tors or rel­a­tives who were vic­tims of Adolf Hitler’s gas cham­bers. The Israeli peo­ple know of the hor­rors of chem­i­cal weapons. They should demand that their gov­ern­ment rat­i­fy the Chem­i­cal Weapons Con­ven­tion imme­di­ate­ly. Then Israel will be in a bet­ter posi­tion to demand that its neigh­bor to the south, Egypt, do the same. And the world will be safer.

(Syr­ia, as not­ed above, has agreed to join the Con­ven­tion).

As the Nobel Com­mit­tee men­tioned, the Unit­ed States and Rus­sia have yet to fin­ish dis­man­tling chem­i­cal weapons stock­piles, which are the largest known stock­piles. We need to get that done. We’ve already missed the final April 2012 dead­line.

There is no good rea­son why these arse­nals should exist. The use of chem­i­cal weapons against any foe by either us or the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion would be a war crime. Since these weapons have no pur­pose except to ter­ror­ize, kill, and maim on a grand scale, we should get rid of them. All of them. Every­where.

A plan­et free of chem­i­cal weapons is a wor­thy goal that the world com­mu­ni­ty has agreed on. That’s why we have the Chem­i­cal Weapons Con­ven­tion.

We should ful­ly com­ply with our treaty oblig­a­tions and ensure that every last one of our chem­i­cal weapons are destroyed, and the byprod­ucts dis­posed of as safe­ly as pos­si­ble with­out harm­ing the envi­ron­ment. And we should work to ensure that every oth­er nation, par­tic­u­lar­ly the OPCW non-mem­ber states, does like­wise.

Again, con­grat­u­la­tions to the OPCW for win­ning this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

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2 Comments

  1. A wor­thy choice. Hope­ful­ly TIME will make Pope Fran­cis Per­son of the Year.

    # by Nathan Rogers :: November 2nd, 2013 at 4:23 AM
  2. Con­grat­u­la­tions to the win­ners!

    # by Carlos A. :: November 5th, 2013 at 8:53 PM