About the Author
Oscar Arias was born in Heredia, Costa Rica, in 1940. He studied law and economics at the University of Costa Rica and received a doctoral degree in political science at the University of Essex, England. Arias was appointed Costa Rican Minister of Planning and Economic Policy, then won a seat in Congress in 1978 and was elected Secretary-General of the National Liberation Party in 1981. In 1986, he was elected President of Costa Rica, assuming office at a time of great regional discord, with civil wars and unrest throughout Central America.
In 1987, Arias drafted a peace plan to end the regional crisis. His initiative culminated in the signing of the Esquipulas II Accords, or the Procedure to Establish a Firm and Lasting Peace in Central America, by five Central American presidents on 7 August 1987. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize later that year. In 1988, Arias used the monetary award from the Nobel Peace Prize to establish the Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress, which allowed him to continue his pursuit of global peace and human security after leaving office.
In 2006, he was elected to a second term as President, becoming the first Nobel Laureate in history to be elected to a nation’s top office after winning that prize.
After leaving office in 2010, Arias has dedicated his time to the Arias Foundation and, in particular, the effort to implement a comprehensive Arms Trade Treaty to address the unchecked flow of arms across borders, especially into the developing world. The treaty, which began as a Code of Conduct on Arms Transfers drafted at a meeting that Arias held with fellow Nobel Peace Laureates in 1997, was approved by the United Nations last year.
Arias has received approximately sixty honorary doctorates from colleges and universities and numerous prizes, among them the Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Award, the Liberty Medal of Philadelphia, the Prince of Asturias Award, and the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Award.