What does Nobel Peace Prize winner OPCW do and how is Canada involved?
Director General Ahmet Uzumcu of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, OPCW, gives an update on the the chemical watchdog's verification and destruction mission in Syria during a press conference in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday Oct. 9, 2013. (AP /eter Dejong)
Published Friday, October 11, 2013 5:53AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, October 11, 2013 9:27AM EDT
The winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, has had a relatively low global profile until it began destroying Syria’s stockpile this month.
You may be surprised to learn that Canada is not only one of the OPCW’s 189 member states, but also a major financial contributor to the group’s efforts.
What is the OPCW and what does it do?
Since the early 1990s, the group has been working to implement the Chemical Weapons Convention.
The international treaty, which came into force in 1997, prohibits the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, transfer or use of chemical weapons.
The OPCW has conducted more than 5,000 inspections in 86 countries. The organization says 100 per cent of the declared chemical weapons stockpiles have been inventoried and verified and more than 80 per cent of the global stockpile of chemical agents has been destroyed.
OPCW’s director-general is Turkish diplomat Ahmet Uzumcu.
What is Canada’s contribution to the OPCW?
The OPCW is funded by its member states and Canada has made significant contributions to the group in recent years.
In 2012, Canada gave the OPCW $6 million to help Libya destroy its stockpile of chemical weapons after long-time ruler Muammar Gadhafi was captured and killed during a revolution.
Earlier this year, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced a $2-million credit line to the OPCW to support a United Nations investigation into the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
An OPCW team is now on the ground in Syria, working to destroy the country’s stockpile amid the ongoing civil war.
Who has chemical weapons?
Seven of OPCW’s member states -- Albania, India, Iraq, Libya, Russia, the United States, and an unidentified country believed to be South Korea -- have declared stockpiles of chemical weapons.
Syria has also declared its chemical weapons, but won’t officially become an OPCW member state until next week.
According to an OPCW report released earlier this year, the U.S. has destroyed about 90 per cent of its chemical weapons stockpile. Russia has destroyed 70 per cent and Libya 51 per cent.
The OPCW also said that 70 chemical weapons production facilities in 13 member states have been taken out of commission.
Which countries are not OPCW members?
Countries that have not signed the Chemical Weapons Convention include North Korea, Angola, Egypt and South Sudan. Israel and Myanmar have signed but not ratified the treaty.
With files from The Associated Press