The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The move offers encouragement for their difficult work in Syria, says DW's Rainer Sollich.
There's no question that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) deserves the Novel Peace Prize. With the award, the Nobel committee in Oslo also recognizes the efforts of the international community, as a whole, to rid our world of one of the most terrible types of weapons.
Dictators such as Saddam Hussein in Iraq and, in recent months, apparently Bashar Al-Assad have used these arms ruthlessly against their own citizens. It is at least very probable that Assad used chemical weapons, even though conclusive evidence on the matter has yet to emerge.
An award for a groundbreaking treaty
The fact that international experts have entered another country on behalf of the international community in an effort to get rid of these deadly arsenals - there's nothing to criticize there. One can only welcome such deeds.
The International Chemical Weapons Convention in 1997, which created the OPCW, proved groundbreaking. It represents the first time an entire category of weapons of mass destruction was outlawed and agreement was reached that these weapons should be destroyed under international supervision. Currently, the OPCW is trying to do just that in Syria under the toughest war conditions. The Nobel Peace Prize offers significant encouragement for those involved.
Their mission certainly deserves support. Experts estimate the Syrian arsenal houses one thousand tons of chemical weapons, which are spread out across numerous locations in the country. These arms are not only a major threat in the hands of the dictator Assad. There is also a risk that extremist groups from the opposition's network could gain access to them - including those affiliated with al Qaeda. Danger is at hand - and that concerns not just Syria, but the entire region, including neighboring Arab states as well as in Israel.
However, the conferral of the Nobel should not lead us to reduce the Syrian conflict to the issue of chemical weapons. More than 100,000 people have been killed in this war, largely through the use of traditional, rather than chemical, weapons. Even the US government praised the Syrian regime for cooperating on the disposal of chemical weapons.
But that regime continues to use traditional warfare brutally against its enemies, who include civilians. The Syrian opposition has also increasingly committed human rights violations. Those who want to help out in Syria cannot look solely at the chemical weapons arsenals. A political solution is needed that could put an end to the bloodshed.