Sunday, October 13, 2013

Chemical Weapons Group Gets Nobel

In case you missed the news, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons won the Nobel Peace Prize last week.  Click here for more information about the award.
Click for photo credit.

You might ask, What does this have to do with sustainability?

As it turns out, a great deal.  At a workshop at the United Nations last week, I heard presentations from 22 countries that are trying to implement sustainable development plans.  Fully 1/5 of them are dealing with conflict or other issues that make it difficult for them to move from planning to implementation.  So, any group that is trying to reduce conflict will help in the sustainability movement.  Plus, chemical weapons are weapons of mass destruction.  They kill indiscriminately. 

International chemical weapons treaties emerged after their use in World War I.  In 1925, the Geneva Protocol made their use illegal--but stopped short of allowing their possession.  Thus, many nations, including the United States, manufactured chemical weapons.  I remember years ago doing some geologic consulting work  at a chemical weapons facility in Arkansas.  At the time, I was surprised to learn how many we had.

In 1997 the Chemical Weapons Convention came into effect that required signatories to destroy stockpiles.  The U.S. signed the agreement.  Syria did not until last  month.  The U.S. is still in the destruction phase, but has destroyed a significant amount of chemical weapons over the last several decades.

If you click to the website associated with regulating chemical weapons here, you will find that they are impacted by the current government shutdown.  Note, if you are reading this in the archive:  as of this writing,  the U.S. Government has been shut down for several days which has impacted a number of agencies. 

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