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:
- North Korea
- South Sudan
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.