We applaud the decision of the Norwegian Nobel Committee to award the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The timing of this award is striking. The OPCW represents an outstanding example of what the international community can accomplish even at the most dire of times. This is being proven in the on-going Syrian crisis, where in response to the use of chemical weapons bold political moves were made to attempt to avert a further escalation of the already grave military conflict. This creative solution represented ‘out of the box’ thinking and also was discussed at the unofficial “Track II” level, including through the Pugwash network.It is not by chance that the OPCW has become central to the efforts of the international community against further use of chemical weapons in Syria.
Some 98% of the world’s population is covered by the Chemical Weapons Convention, and the OPCW effectively monitors compliance with this prohibition. The OPCW has a proven track record of successfully eliminating the greatest share of the most dangerous chemical weapons in global arsenals. And, finally, the OPCW operates the most comprehensive and effective, yet the most democratic global verification regime, a regime based primarily on cooperation, but with teeth and instruments of enforcement. It is also important to note that the negotiations for the Chemical Weapons Convention as well as the work and achievements of the OPCW provide inspiration and valuable lessons for efforts to reduce and eliminate nuclear weapons.
We urgently call again on all states who have not yet done so (namely Angola, Egypt, Israel, DPRK, Myanmar, and South Sudan) to join the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Pugwash throughout its history has actively promoted international institutions that support the prohibition and elimination of weapons of mass destruction and continues to provide input to negotiations and important scientific expertise to strengthen the chemical weapons disarmament regime.
We will have a specific focus on these issues at the upcoming 60th Pugwash Conference in Istanbul, Turkey, 1-5 November 2013.
–Pugwash President Amb. Jayantha Dhanapala –Pugwash Secretary General Prof. Paolo Cotta-Ramusino –Pugwash Council Member & former chemical weapons negotiator Amb. Sergey Batsanov