“The Craftsmanship of Peace: Moving to Global Demilitarization” Watch Video
A two-time President of Costa Rica, Óscar Arias Sánchez (b. 1940) has dedicated much of his political career to the promotion of peace and social justice. He has mediated several Central American conflicts and his political work has been instrumental to the socioeconomic development of Costa Rica.
Born in Heredia, Costa Rica, Arias received degrees in law and economics from the University of Costa Rica, and a Ph.D. in political science from Essex University. He has likewise been the recipient of many honorary degrees, including doctorates from Harvard, Princeton, and Dartmouth.
While teaching at the University of Costa Rica, Arias served as a financial advisor to the President. He went on to become Costa Rica's minister of national planning and economic policy, and also served as a congressman and as Secretary General of the National Liberation Party. In 1986, at the age of 44, Arias became the youngest President in the history of Costa Rica. Over the four years of his first presidency, Arias oversaw the transformation of the national economy from one based on traditional cash crops to one based on non-traditional agriculture and tourism. After a constitutional amendment allowing former Presidents to run for re-election, Arias won the presidency again in 2006.
Arias received the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize for his work toward the signing of the "Esquipulas II Accord," an agreement between Central American countries to promote peace and democracy in the region. The agreement helped to bring peace between the Contras and Sandinistas in Nicaragua, end civil wars in El Salvador and Guatemala, and end Manuel Noriega's military dictatorship in Panama.
A recipient of the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism, Arias continues to lecture and promote peace around the world.