LONDON — The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded today to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the watchdog group that has risen to sudden prominence over the past month in the effort to divest Syria of such munitions.
“Disarmament figures prominently in Alfred Nobel’s will,” said Thorbjorn Jagland, chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee.
While the committee has, in the past, recognized those campaigning to eliminate nuclear weapons, today’s announcement shows its support for ridding the world of chemical ones as well, Jagland declared at a news conference in Oslo.
The OPCW, based in The Hague, was chosen from a record pool of 259 nominees for the world’s most prestigious prize.
The OPCW was formed at the same time the international Chemical Weapons Convention came into force in 1997. The pact calls for the destruction of all chemical weapons, and the OPCW is tasked with carrying that out. Nearly 200 countries, representing 98 percent of the world’s population, have signed on to the accord.
The choice of the OPCW to receive its highest honor continues the Nobel Committee’s tradition of recognizing institutions as well as individuals. Last year’s winner was the European Union, credited with helping to stitch Europe back together after the continent was torn apart by two world wars; other groups to have been awarded the prize include the medical charity Doctors Without Borders.