Bacolod City, Philippines — Franz Ontal is a Filipino who heads inspector training for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which won the Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts at eliminating chemical weapons from the world.
He said winning the prestigious award was the last thing on their minds on October 11 while in Syria investigating alleged chemical weapons attacks. That was the day they received official word that their group had won the award.
Ontal, a 49-year-old from Negros Occidental, said in an online interview, “I’d say my first reactions were of inner jubilation, followed by a quiet satisfaction that OPCW’s more than 16 years of difficult and largely unsung work in the shadows of international arms control were finally being recognized”.
He stressed that being recognized by the Nobel Committee was an incredible honor and the publicity that it generated would definitely highlight OPCW’s international mandate.
He also said he hoped winning the award would boost their campaign to finally eradicate chemical weapons.
The award ceremony will be held in Oslo, Norway on December 10, and OPCW director general, Ambassador Ahmet Uzumcu, will accept the peace prize on behalf of the organization, according to reports.
Ontal is a member of the group preparing the Nobel laureate exhibit opening in Oslo the day after.
He said the prize would boost the moral of the inspectors in Syria where a lot of work still needs to be done.
“I hope the peace prize will underline the fact that OPCW is in Syria as a neutral entity that does not confer any importance on one faction over another. We have been sent by the international community to perform a task and to carry it out in a transparent, efficient and safe manner,” he said.
Perhaps “the Nobel will put more pressure on the few nonsignatory countries left to join the Chemical Weapons Convention, so we may finally eradicate CWs from the planet,” he added. (Image/cyprus-mail.com)