The award of this year's Nobel Peace Prize to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was both timely and well-deserved.
It sounds the alarm on the unresolved world problem of chemical weapons. Their use in the Syria war focused public attention on the true horror of these arms, which are indiscriminate in their victims. As of now, in the Middle East, Egypt and Israel have not yet signed and ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention, which took effect in 1997. The United States has signed and ratified it, but is being slow about destroying its stockpile. It promises completion of the task by 2023.
The OPCW is also reportedly doing an excellent job of working its way through Syria's armories of chemical weapons, consistent with security conditions in the war-torn country. The organization is verifying Syria's inventory of such weapons on the ground and is destroying them on a schedule that should be completed by the middle of next year. The OPCW team should be highly praised for carrying out its work in Syria's hazardous environment.
By implementing this approach to Syria's chemical weapons, the OPCW is carrying out an operation that has served, through U.S.-Russian cooperation, to avert a military attack on Syria for which President Barack Obama was seeking congressional approval. He was unlikely to have obtained such approval, given the overall distaste by Americans for one more Middle Eastern war. His failure would have produced yet another domestic political crisis.
It is also unknown what Russia's reaction would have been to a U.S. attack on its ally Syria. The risk to peace the world might have faced could have had wider ramifications than just in the Middle East.
There were other worthy candidates in the running for this year's prize, including Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, whom the Taliban shot in the head during a murder attempt last year. Ms. Yousafzai, 16, is a courageous activist for girls' education and on Thursday was awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought by the European Union, its top human rights award.
It is a blessing to all of the world to see advocates for disarmament, education and peace being recognized, honored and covered on newspaper front pages. Too many monsters receive too much notoriety for their actions. This time the good guys get the attention.
First Published October 11, 2013 8:00 PM