The team overseeing the dismantling of Syria’s store of chemical weapons has been named the surprise winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize - Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 11 October

The team overseeing the dismantling of Syria’s store of chemical weapons has been named the surprise winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize

Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 11 October

Darren Evans

The Nobel committee, based in Oslo, Norway, gave the prestigious honour to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) for its “extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons”.

It said the OPCW’s work had “defined the use of chemical weapons as taboo under international law. Recent events in Syria, where chemical weapons have again been put to use, have underlined the need to enhance the efforts to do away with such weapons.”

The OPCW is an independent global watchdog based in The Hague, Netherlands, whose members work to implement the Chemical Weapons Convention, which entered into force in 1997. In addition to its oversight in Syria, the team has also been employed in Iraq and Libya in recent years.

One of the favourites for this year’s prize was Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl who survived being shot in the head by the Taliban last year, having been targeted for campaigning for women’s rights, including the right for girls to be educated.

Yesterday she was awarded the European Union’s Sakharov Prize, Europe’s top human rights accolade, and was tipped to become the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize winner.

But it was not to be – possibly because of the civil war in Syria. About 30 OPCW experts and United Nations personnel are currently in the war-torn country to destroy chemical weapons and production facilities after an international agreement for them to do so was reached last month.

The Nobel Peace Prize is one of five prizes created by Swedish industrialist and inventor Alfred Nobel. It has been awarded annually since 1901 to those who have “done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congress”.

Previous winners have included former South African president Nelson Mandela, Burmese rights campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi, climate change campaigner and US presidential candidate Al Gore and, in 2009, US President Barack Obama.

Last year the prize was awarded to the EU for its contribution to peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights across the continent.


1.) What are the Nobel prizes? Find out five facts about them.
2.) What difference does it make to the world to have an annual prize that recognises people who work to promote peace?
3.) What are chemical weapons? In your opinion, are there some types of weapons that are worse than others?
4.) Why do you think the committee chose to award the prize to the OPCW rather than to Malala Yousafzai? Do you agree with their decision?

Related resources


  • Explain Malala's campaign for girls' education with this assembly and accompanying video.


  • Could Malala Yousafzai be considered a hero? Discuss what “heroic” means with this assembly presentation.

Want or need?

  • Help pupils to define basic human rights with these sorting cards from UNICEF UK.

Human rights

  • An introductory lesson and resources on the law and regulations created to protect everyone's human rights.

Further news resources

First News front page

  • Help your pupils understand the features of the front page of a newspaper.

Write all about it

  • Get students creating their own news report with this step-by-step guide.

What is the News?

  • A sociological and media perspective on what makes an event 'newsworthy'.

On the box

  • Help pupils to write their own TV news broadcast with this handy PowerPoint.

Structuring stories

  • A scheme of work to help students structure news stories.

In the news this week

Tom Hanks vows to cast away big roles after diabetes diagnosis

World's first malaria vaccine could have 'significant impact' on population and economic growth.

An army of 100 of the robots – known as M-Blocks – is now being built. It is hoped that when the cubes are scattered randomly across the floor, they will be able to identify each other, come together and coalesce to become a chair, ladder or desk on demand..

A range of factors including climate change, overfishing and pollution is causing a global crisis that is endangering sea life.

In the news archive index