An OPCW inspector working on site in Syria - EPA / SYRIAN TELEVISION
"The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2013 is to be awarded to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) for its extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons," Thorbjørn Jagland, Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, told reporters.
"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."
Ahmet Üzümcü, the OPCW's Director General, said the award was "overwhelming" and that staff had been "very moved" when rung by the Nobel Prize organisation.
"I think the Nobel Peace Prize will give a new impetus and encouragement," he added. "It is a great incentive to our staff who are working in the Secretariat and who are deployed in Syria."
News that the OPCW would win the prize was leaked to Norwegian media roughly an hour ahead of Friday's scheduled announcement, with state broadcaster NRK reporting the group would be the second organization in a row to named a peace laureate.
In its citation, the Nobel Committee made note of the recent chemical weapons attack in Syria as evidence of the importance of the OPCW's work.
"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 Committee wrote in a statement, before taking a swipe at some of the states that haven't yet joined the OPCW.
"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," the Committee explained.
The decision will likely disappoint supporters of Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, who has been far and away the most-hyped candidate to win the award, after the story of her fight for an education in the face of Islamic fundamentalism became an international media sensation.
Malala herself has said she had not done enough to deserve the distinction, although she told a press conference on Thursday that winning would be "an honour".
Jagland refused to be drawn on whether Malala had been in the running, saying that the committee only ever commented on the winners.
However, before the announcement said that the five-strong committee had found this year's award “a basically relatively easy process”, telling Norwegian media that it was “not particularly difficult to reach this year’s winner”.
The OCPW, which operates from offices in The Hague, was established to enforce the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention.
"This is deserved because the OPCW is an organization that helps disarmament and world peace," Anniken Krutnes, Norway's permanent representative to the organization told Norway's NTB newswire. "We work steadily, and have now removed almost 80 percent of the world's chemical weapons."
The Committee has come in for criticism in recent years for awards some argued were contrary the will of Swedish industrialist, inventor and arms manufacturer Alfred Nobel, the prize's founder, most notably those to Europe in 2012 and to Barack Obama in 2009.
The OPCW will be awarded the prize, along with the $1.25m in prize money, in Oslo on December 10, the anniversary of Nobel's death.
It is the 25th organisation to win the award, which has gone no fewer than ten times to agencies and staff of the United Nations, with which the OPCW is loosely allied.
This year the committee received a record 295 nominations, which come predominantly from MPs across the world, international judges, university professors, previous Nobel laureates, and active and former members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.