OPCW wins Nobel Peace Prize

Awarded the prize "for its extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons".

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), based at the Hague in the Netherlands, has won the Nobel Peace Prize. Official announcements were made one hour after the result was leaked by Norweigan public broadcaster NRK.

The OPCW was widely expected to win the prize after its global work was drawn attention to by its involvement in Syria. Over 1,400 people died following a sarin gas attack in the suburbs of Damascus this August, prompting involvement by the organisation, who is charged with ridding the country of its sizeable stockpile. The body has been overseeing the international elimination of chemical weapons since 1997, when it was created in order to enforce the 1997 Chemical Weapons convention. Experts arrived in Syria in September with a view to completing their work by mid-2014.

A statement accompanying announcement of the OPCW as Nobel Peace Prize winner added: “Disarmament figures prominently in Alfred Nobel’s will. The Norwegian Nobel Committee has through numerous prizes underlined the need to do away with nuclear weapons. By means of the present award to the OPCW, the Committee is seeking to contribute to the elimination of chemical weapons.” The $1.25 million prize is expected to widen the OPCW's remit and put further pressure on countries, like Russia and the USA, who did not observe an April 2012 deadline to destroy their chemical weapons.

Out of the 259 nominees for this year’s prize, the OPCW was a strong favourite alongside Pakistani schoolgirl and gender rights activist Malala Yousafzai and Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege, known for his pioneering work with rape victims since 1999. It had been previously suggested that awarding Yousafzai the prize could have put her in more danger.

Past winners have included Barack Obama, Aung San Suu Kyi, the 14th Dalai Lama and Mother Theresa. Last year, the European Union won the prize "for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe".

Kalimi Mugambi Mworia, director of the International Cooperation and Assistnace division for the Organisation of the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), speaks during the opening of the Fifth Regional Meeting of National Authorities in Asia, in Doha 0
Holly Baxter is a freelance journalist who writes regularly for The Guardian and The New Statesman. She is also one half of The Vagenda and releases a book on the media in May 2014.
BFM TV
Show Hide image

Emmanuel Macron's "moralisation of politics" comes at a heavy price for his allies

"Fake" jobs in French politics, season 3 episode 1.

Something is rotten in the state of France. No political party – at least none that existed before 2016 – seems immune to the spread of investigations into “fake” or shady parliamentary jobs. The accusations sank centre-right candidate François Fillon’s presidential campaign, and led to Marine Le Pen losing her parliamentary immunity in the European parliament (and proxy wars within her party, the National Front). Both deny the allegations. Now the investigations have made their way to the French government, led by Edouard Philippe, Emmanuel Macron’s Prime Minister.

On Wednesday morning, justice minister François Bayrou and secretary of state for European affairs Marielle de Sarnez announced their resignation from Philippe’s cabinet. They followed defence minister Sylvie Goulard’s resignation the previous day. The three politicians belonged not to Macron's party, En Marche!, but the centrist MoDem party. Bayrou, the leader, had thrown his weight behind Macron after dropping his own presidential bid in April.

The disappearance of three ministers leaves Emmanuel Macron’s cross-party government, which includes politicians from centre left and centre right parties, without a centrist helm. (Bayrou, who has run several times for the French presidency and lost, is the original “neither left nor right” politician – just with a less disruptive attitude, and a lot less luck). “I have decided not to be part of the next government,” he told the AFP.

Rumours had been spreading for weeks. Bayrou, who was last part of a French government as education minister from 1993 to 1997, had been under pressure since 9 June, when he was included in a preliminary investigation into “embezzlement”. The case revolves around whether the parliamentary assistants of MoDem's MEPs, paid for by the European Parliament, were actually working full or part-time for the party. The other two MoDem ministers who resigned, along with Bayrou, also have assistants under investigation.

Bayrou has denied the allegations. He has declared that there “never was” any case of “fake” jobs within his party and that it would be “easy to prove”. All the same, by the time he resigned, his position as justice minister has become untenable, not least because he was tasked by Macron with developing key legislation on the “moralisation of politics”, one of the new President’s campaign pledges. On 1 June, Bayrou unveiled the new law, which plans a 10-year ban from public life for any politician convicted of a crime or offence regarding honesty and transparency in their work.

Bayrou described his decision to resign as a sacrifice. “My name was never pronounced, but I was the target to hit to attack the government’s credibility,” he said, declaring he would rather “protect this law” by stepping down. The other two ministers also refuted the allegations, and gave similar reasons for resigning. 

Macron’s movement-turned-unstoppable-machine, En Marche!, remains untainted from accusations of the sort. Their 350 new MPs are younger, more diverse than is usual in France – but they are newcomers in politics. Which is exactly why Macron had sought an alliance with experienced Bayrou in the first place.

0800 7318496