New York/Singapore

11 October 2013

Statement by the Secretary-General on the Awarding of the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons

I congratulate the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons for being awarded the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.  I extend my warmest respects to Mr. Ahmet Üzümcü, Director-General of the OPCW.

This recognition occurs nearly 100 years after the first chemical attack – and 50 days after the appalling use of chemical weapons in Syria.  Far from being a relic of the past, chemical weapons remain a clear and present danger.

Later today the Security Council is expected to approve a first-of-its-kind OPCW-UN Joint Mission in Syria following the landmark work of the UN Chemical Weapons Investigation Mission.

The OPCW has a specific task – to eliminate chemical weapons and prevent them from ever re-emerging.  But it also has a broad mission – to prove that the inhumanity of war can give rise to the humanity of solidarity and international cooperation.

The OPCW has greatly strengthened the rule of law in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation.  Thanks in large measure to its efforts, eighty per cent of the declared chemical weapons stockpiles have been destroyed.  I strongly believe this success can inspire other parts of the global disarmament machinery to live up to the expectations of the international community.   

But progress in achieving the total destruction of chemical weapons must be complemented by efforts to gain universal adherence to the Chemical Weapons Convention.  As the depositary of the Convention, I urge all countries to sign, ratify and implement it without further delay.

Like the United Nations, the mission of the OPCW was born from a fundamental abhorrence at the atrocities of war.  From the battlefields to the laboratories to the negotiating table, the United Nations is honoured to work hand-in-hand with the OPCW to eliminate the threat posed by chemical weapons for all people and for all time.

Together, we must ensure that the fog of war will never again be composed of poison gas.