The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 2013 "for its extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons".

Thorbjorn Jagland, chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, announced the award saying it had had a "considerable" impact on reducing the use of chemical weapons.

The OPCW, established in 1997, is an independent organisation that works with the United Nations.

A statement from the Norwegian Nobel Committee said: "During WWI, chemical weapons were used to a considerable degree. The Geneva Convention of 1925 prohibited the use, but not the production or storage, of chemical weapons. During WWII, chemical means were employed in Hitler's mass exterminations.

"Chemical weapons have subsequently been put to use on numerous occasions by both states and terrorists. In 1992-93 a convention was drawn up prohibiting also the production and storage of such weapons."

Thorbjorn Jagland, chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee
Thorbjorn Jagland, chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, announced the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize (Reuters)

The committee said the convention came into force in 1997 and since then 189 states have agreed to it.

"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. Some states are still not members of the OPCW. Certain states have not observed the deadline, which was April 2012, for destroying their chemical weapons. This applies especially to the USA and Russia.

"Disarmament figures prominently in Alfred Nobel's will. The Norwegian Nobel Committee has through numerous prizes underlined the need to do away with nuclear weapons. By means of the present award to the OPCW, the Committee is seeking to contribute to the elimination of chemical weapons."

Nobel said it did not award the OPCW with the prize for its efforts in Syria, but for its "long-standing work".

Other nominees for this year's award included education activist Malala Yousafzai and gynaecologist Denis Mukwege of the Democratic Republic of Congo, both of whom had been tipped as favourites to win the award. Russian president Vladimir Putin had also been nominated by a Russian advocacy group because he "actively promotes settlement of all conflicts arising on the planet".