Chemical weapons watchdog the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee said that the Peace Prize had been awarded to the OPCW for its extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons.
Despite being the favourite, Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai did not win the prize but in the run-up to the announcement, the 16-year-old won the hearts of people around the world. Malala over the course of the last week appeared on several television channels and not only advocated her cause of education for all, but also projected a positive image of Pakistan.
In a recent interview on CNN, Malala Yousafzai said she wanted to become the prime minister of Pakistan to cheers from the live audience. “I think it’s really good because through politics I can save my whole country.”
Malala Yousafzai first rose to prominence in 2009 when at the age of 11 she wrote a blog for the BBC Urdu service chronicling life under Taliban rule in the scenic valley of Swat.
Her struggle resonated with tens of thousands of girls denied an education by militants across northwest Pakistan, where the government has been fighting local Taliban since 2007.
When the army launched an offensive to oust the Taliban, Malala fled Swat with her family led by her father Ziauddin, school principal and himself a seasoned campaigner for education.
After this difficult period she resumed her work promoting education, received the first national peace award from the Pakistani government and was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize.
But on October 9 last year the men with guns decided they could no longer tolerate the girl with a book and sent two hitmen to kill Malala on her school bus.
The Pakistani Taliban claimed the attack and warned that any woman who stood up to them would suffer a similar fate.
Incredibly she survived — the bullet grazed her brain and travelled through her neck before lodging in her shoulder — and as she lay fighting for life in hospital, Pakistan and the world united in horror.
After surgery in Pakistan, Malala was flown for further treatment to Britain, where six days after the attack she woke up.
“The first thing I thought was, ‘Thank God I’m not dead.’ But I had no idea where I was. I knew I was not in my homeland,” Malala wrote in an autobiography published this week.
Eventually she recovered enough to continue her studies at school in the central city of Birmingham, where her family moved to join her.
There she learned to enjoy things one might expect of a British teenager — TV shows like “Masterchef” and “Ugly Betty”, fried chicken and cheesy potato snacks.
But her determination to campaign for education, fired by her own mother’s illiteracy, remains undiminished.
In her speech given to the UN on her 16th birthday in July, Malala pledged herself to the fight for all children to go to school and said the Taliban attack would not silence her.
“Nothing changed in my life, except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born,” she said.
Time magazine has listed Malala as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, and she has spoken of her desire to enter politics to change Pakistan and improve education.
For now, she is concentrating on spreading the simple message she spelt out at the UN: “One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world.”
The Hague-based OPCW was founded in 1997 to implement the Chemical Weapons
Convention signed on January 13, 1993.
Its work is currently in the spotlight, as it is supervising the dismantling of Syria’s chemical arsenal and facilities by mid-2014 under the terms of a UN Security Council resolution.
A team of around 30 OPCW arms experts and UN logistics and security personnel are on the ground in Syria and have started to destroy weapons production facilities, with footage of their work broadcast on Syrian television.
The OPCW said on Tuesday it was sending a second wave of inspectors to bolster the disarmament mission in the war-ravaged nation.