The Hague - The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons who won
this year's Nobel Peace Prize on Friday have been working for years to rid the
world of chemical arsenals.
The organisation was thrust into the spotlight when it was required to
oversee the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria, but it has been working
since the 1990s as the body that implements the Chemical Weapons Convention,
the first international treaty to outlaw an entire class of weapons.
The convention prohibits the development, production, acquisition,
stockpiling, retention, transfer or use of chemical weapons. It came into force
in 1997 and has been ratified by 189 states.
Of those, seven - Albania, India,
Iraq, Libya, Russia and the United States, along with a country identified by
the OPCW only as "a State Party" but widely believed to be South
Korea - have declared stockpiles of chemical weapons. These include mustard gas
and nerve agents like sarin and VX.
Syria is due to become a member state of the organization on Monday and has
acknowledged having chemical weapons. Non-signatories to the treaty include
North Korea, Angola, Egypt and South Sudan. Israel and Myanmar have signed but
not ratified the convention.
The OPCW has conducted more than 5 000 inspections in 86 countries. It says
100% of the declared chemical weapons stockpiles have been inventoried and
According to its statistics, 57 740 metric tonnes, or 81.1%, of the world's
declared stockpile of chemical agents have been verifiably destroyed. Albania,
India and "a third country" - believed to be South Korea - have completed
destruction of their declared stockpiles. An OPCW report released earlier this
year said the United States had destroyed about 90% of its stockpile, Russia
had destroyed 70% and Libya 51%.
Thirteen OPCW members have also declared a total of 70 chemical weapons
production facilities. The organization says all 70 have been taken out of
commission including 43 destroyed altogether and 21 converted to peaceful
The OPCW is funded by its member states and had a budget of some 74 million
euros in 2011. It employs some 500 people in The Hague. The director-general is
Turkish diplomat Ahmet Uzumcu.