Anti-chemical weapons activist wins Swedish rights prize

STOCKHOLM- US anti-chemical weapons campaigner Paul Walker was jointly awarded the Swedish Right Livelihood Award on Thursday honouring those who work to improve the lives of others.
"Chemical weapons are easy to manufacture but very difficult to get rid of. Walker has 20 years of experience in how to eliminate them both politically and technically," Ole von Uexkull, director of the Right Livelihood Award Foundation, told AFP.

"It is his knowledge that is needed right now in Syria."
The 67-year-old Walker, from the environmental group Green Cross, shares the prize with four other laureates who the prize jury said work to "secure the fundamentals of human life".
The other three prize winners were Palestinian human rights activist Raji Sourani, Congolese surgeon Denis Mukwege and Swiss food security expert Hans Herren.
"They show that we have the knowledge and the tools to eliminate weapons of mass destruction, to secure respect for human rights, to end the war on women in Eastern Congo, and to feed the world with organic agriculture," wrote von Uexkull in a statement.
Reacting to the announcement Walker said he was delighted to receive the award and that it underlined the need to rid the world of chemical weapons.
He said it was "extremely urgent" to verify and destroy Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles, but that it was just the first step towards wider disarmament in the region.
"Israel and Egypt, being neighbours of Syria, really feel pressure now to join the Chemical Weapons Convention. They don't need the option of chemical weapons and should join the rest of the world," he said.
"The only high hanging fruit remaining is North Korea -- and given that their neighbour South Korea has destroyed its stockpiles it's high time they joined the convention as well."
Swedish-German philatelist Jakob von Uexkull founded the donor-funded prize in 1980 after the Nobel Foundation behind the Nobel Prizes refused to create awards honouring efforts in the fields of the environment and international development.
For this reason, the Right Livelihood Award Foundation often calls its distinction the "alternative Nobel prize."
The four Right Livelihood winners share the 2.0 million kronor (230,000 euros, $312,000) prize sum equally.
The awards were to be formally handed over at a ceremony in the Swedish parliament on December 2.

Friday, September 27th 2013

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