World News

    Chemical Weapons Watchdog Wins Nobel Peace Prize

    The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which is currently working to destroy Syria's chemical weapons arsenal.

    The Nobel Committee made the announcement Friday in Oslo, recognizing the group for "its extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons."

    OPCW Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu called the prize a great honor.



    "We are a small organization, which for over 16 years and away from the glare of international publicity, has shouldered an onerous but noble task to act as the guardian of the global ban on chemical weapons."



    The Hague-based organization was formed in 1997 to enforce the International Chemical Weapons Convention.

    The Nobel Committee said in a statement Friday that the work of the OPCW has helped define the use of chemical weapons "as taboo under international law." It said recent events in Syria, where chemical weapons were recently used on civilians,"have underlined the need to enhance the efforts to do away with such weapons."



    Syria has acknowledged having chemical weapons and is set to become a member state of the OPCW on Monday.

    The OPCW is funded by its member states and has a budget of some $100 million. It employs about 500 people at its headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands. It says it has conducted more than 5,000 inspections in 86 countries, with 100 percent of the declared chemical weapons stockpiles inventoried and verified.

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry praised the selection of the OPCW, saying that it has taken "extraordinary steps" in Syria to address a "blatant violation of international norms."

    United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also congratulated the OPCW but said its work was far from done.


    "This recognition occurs nearly 100 years after the first chemical attack and 50 days after the appalling use of chemical weapons in Syria. Tragically, the threat of chemical weapons remains a clear and present danger. The OPCW has a specific task to eliminate the chemical weapons and prevent them from ever re-emerging."

    But the choice is also meeting with criticism.

    Salman Shaikh, director of the Brookings Institution Doha Center tweeted Friday, "Let's face it. Kerry,Lavrov and Assad helped OPCW win. I doubt many folks knew much about OPCW before."

    And Nadim Houry, director of the Beirut office for Human Rights Watch tweeted, "I would have thought 2013 would have been a year for soul searching at OPCW, not accolades."

    This year's selection was considered a surprise. Malala Yousafzai, a 16-year-old activist for Pakistani women's education, was seen as a favorite to win the award. On Thursday she won the European Union's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

    Past Nobel Peace laureates include the European Union, U.S. President Barack Obama, Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and Polish trade union organizer Lech Walesa.

    Prizes for achievements in science, literature and peace were first awarded in 1901 in accordance with the will of inventor and businessman Alfred Nobel.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora