WASHINGTON (WKOW) – The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to a chemical weapons watchdog group Friday morning.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons rose to prominence over the past month in the effort to eliminate chemical weapons in Syria.
The OPCW was formed in 1997 to enforce the Chemical Weapons Convention, the first international treaty to outlaw an entire class of weapons.
"The conventions and the work of the OPCW have defined the use of chemical weapons as a taboo under international law," the Norwegian Nobel Committee said in Oslo. "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."
Friday's award comes just days before Syria officially joins as the group's 190th member state. OPCW inspectors are already on a highly risky U.N.-backed disarmament mission based in Damascus to verify and destroy Syrian President Bashar Assad's arsenal of poison gas and nerve agents amid a raging civil war.
The OPCW's director-general, Ahmet Uzumcu says the award was a recognition of the group's work for global peace in the past 16 years.
He said 27 OPCW experts were visiting chemical weapons storage and production sites in Syria. "And they are making an inventory of them. They are sealing them with a view to in fact eventually begin the destruction of those stockpiles," Uzumcu said.
There was no immediate report on what the organization would do with the $1.2 million prize.
The group was chosen from a pool of 259 nominees. One of the high-profile candidates was Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani teenager who survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban. At 16-years-old, she would have been the prize's youngest recipient ever.
Friday morning, the Pakistani Taliban released a statement saying it was happy Yousafzai did not win.
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