The 27th annual Nobel Peace Prize Forum in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, on 6 to 8 March, 2015, celebrated the 2013 recognition of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague with the Nobel Peace Prize. OPCW Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu was the featured speaker on the morning of Saturday, 7 March. He spoke before an attentive audience of over 700 people.
At current rates, all chemical weapons – across 98% of the world’s territory and population – will be completely eliminated, not only within our lifetimes, but within this decade. That amounts to more than 70,000 metric tons of chemical agents. To put this figure into perspective, it takes only one drop of much of these agents to kill an adult instantly. Imagine the complete eradication of an entire category of weapons of mass destruction under international verification. This will be a truly historic achievement.
Read the full speech from OPCW Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu, or view the full session.
The Forum, organized annually by Augsburg College and many co-sponsors, promotes a wide range of peace and justice issues by focusing on the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize. Also featured at the conference were Gro Harlem Brundtland, Deputy Chair of the Elders and Former Prime Minister of Norway, and Jimmy Carter, former US President and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. Brundtland spoke on human rights and democracy, while Carter addressed “A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power.”
Paul Walker, Green Cross Director of Environmental Security and Sustainability and 2013 Right Livelihood Laureate, along with Peter Sawczak, Head of OPCW Government Relations and Political Affairs Branch, also led a dialogue on “Chemical Disarmament after Syria: What Happens Next?” They reinforced OPCW DG Uzumcu’s statement that the safe elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons in 2014 and 2015 was “an historic achievement.” They also both called for Angola, Egypt, Israel, Myanmar, North Korea, and South Sudan to join the CWC in the near future. Sawczak pointed out that Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has now ratified the CWC and will soon submit its ratification to the United Nations Secretary General.
US Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins, Walker, and Jonathan Granoff, President of the Global Security Institute, also spoke on 8 March at a session called “Toward Inclusive Disarmament: the Voices of Women and Civil Society”. They argued that the involvement of all stakeholders, including women, minorities, and the developing world is essential to the success of arms control, disarmament, and peace-building. This plenary was held in recognition of International Women’s Day. Granoff and Walker also led a dialogue on “The Imperative for Ending Humanity’s Greatest Threat: Nuclear Weapons”. They called for deeper and faster cuts in nuclear weapons, for the ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), and for all nuclear powers to meet their obligations under Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty which will have its NPT Review Conference in New York City in April-May, 2015.
The full agenda and videos of the many presentations of the Nobel Peace Prize Forum are available at www.nobelpeaceprizeforum.org.