The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is an inconspicuous little body established to help verify implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Although not part of the United Nations, it functions much as U.N. specialized agencies do, right down to its system of assessed contributions, under which the United States annually pays the largest budget share. The OPCW has 190 members now that Syria has graced it with its presence, almost the same as the U.N. itself.
Being nearly identical to U.N. agencies lies right at the heart of why the OPCW appealed to the Norwegian Nobel Peace Prize Committee. Over the years, the Peace Prize has gone to the International Atomic Energy Agency and its director general (2005), the United Nations and its secretary general (2001), U.N. peacekeeping forces (1988), the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (1981), and the International Labor Organization (1969), among others. Some of these awards were well deserved, some were intended as slaps at the United States, and some were merely fatuous. Jay Nordlinger’s lucid study, Peace, They Say, definitively examines Peace Prize foibles, including the quirky tilt toward international bodies.