Nobel Prize

Syria chemical weapons monitors awarded Nobel Peace Prize

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 October, 2013, 3:33am

The global chemical weapons watchdog working to eliminate chemical arms stockpiles in Syria won the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize yesterday.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), a relatively small organisation with a modest budget, dispatched experts to Syria after a sarin gas attack killed more than 1,400 people in August.

Its staff's deployment under a UN mandate helped avert a US strike against President Bashar al-Assad and marked an unusual step into the limelight for a group more used to working behind the scenes.

"We were aware that our work silently but surely was contributing to peace in the world," OPCW head Ahmet Uzumcu said. "The last few weeks have brought this to the fore. The entire international community has been made aware of our work."

Nobel Peace Prize committee head Thorbjoern Jagland said the award was a reminder to nations such as the US and Russia to eliminate their own large stockpiles, "especially because they are demanding that others do the same, like Syria".

The reaction in Syria was polarised. A senior Syrian rebel called the award a ''premature step" that would divert attention from "the real cause of the war" while a ruling party lawmaker declared it to be a vindication of Assad's government.