There’s little doubt Malala Yousafzi, the Pakistani teenager who last year was shot on her school bus for defying the Taliban, was the popular favorite to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Nor is there much question she was more deserving than President Barack Obama was when he was chosen in 2009.
But it isn’t as if giving the Peace Prize to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons for its work since its inception in 1997 diminishes either Malala’s heroism or her contributions to the cause of peace.
The Chicago Tribune, Dallas Morning News and other publications contend that the Nobel Committee erred in not choosing Malala. Perhaps so. Now 16, she was heroic long before she was shot. She was determined enough to get an education and support education for other girls in Pakistan that the Taliban, which had prohibited girls from attending school, sought to make an example of her.
Instead, in attempting to kill her and quash opportunities for girls, the Taliban showed the world how afraid it was of her.
Malala, badly wounded, recovered. She has further matured, written a book and with her family, continues to espouse a cause that can directly benefit half of the world’s population and indirectly benefit all humanity.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has labored in relative obscurity until recently, when the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons on his citizens.
Already this year, the OPCW has sent weapons inspectors into Syria, and inspectors are returning at considerable risk to that war zone to verify and begin to destroy Assad’s chemical weapons stockpile.
Even before this year, the organization has verified the elimination of more than 80 percent of the weapons stockpiles that its members have acknowledged having.
Malala’s supporters contend that the Nobel Committee could have waited a year and given the OPCW the Peace Prize in 2014 — if the organization’s efforts in Syria are successful. It’s hard to argue with that, but it’s also hard to overlook the collaboration in the interests of peace that the OPCW represents and the disarmament it has already achieved.
Malala, meanwhile, hasn’t been entirely forgotten. Her courage has been celebrated the world over; the European Parliament last week bestowed on her the Andrew Sakharov Prize for her defiance of oppression.
The world could honor her further by supporting and spreading this remarkable girl’s message.