Project Costa Rica: Costa Rica's Journey to a Peaceful Society

Arias provides 10-point plan for country

by April Stanley

(Photo courtesy of the Arias Foundation)
Dr. Oscar Arias, former president of Costa Rica, was important in the peace process.

Central America was in the midst of decades plagued by war and authoritarian regimes when Costa Rican President Dr. Oscar Arias Sánchez introduced a peace plan that initiated negotiations among leaders of the region.

The Arias Peace Plan involved Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

The 10-point plan addressed many of the problems which had fueled violence and repression in Central America. According to the document each government was obligated to:

1) Within 60 days grant amnesty for political prisoners and establish a commission to ensure the implementation of the amnesty process. Initiate or reinforce dialog with each domestic political opposition group that has ceased using arms.

2) Suspend military actions of all warring parties.

3) Launch an authentic democratic process, which promotes social justice and respect for human rights. Within 60 days grant to all ideological groups the freedom to operate communication media without prior censorship. Establish pluralism of political parties. Grant each group the right to associate and demonstrate.

4) Hold free, pluralistic and fair elections which will be supervised by the Organization of American States in order to guarantee fairness.

5) Request the suspension of military aid from outside governments and request that irregular forces refrain from receiving such aid.

6) Commit to preventing the use of territory by persons, organizations or groups attempting to destabilize any part of the region. Refuse to provide or allow military or logistical support.

7) Within 60 days, begin negotiations for the control and reduction of weapons. The negotiations shall also cover measures for the disarmament of irregular forces in the region.

8) Within 30 days, establish a follow-up committee to supervise and verify compliance to the commitments of the peace plan. This committee will consist of the secretary generals of the United Nations and the OAS, as well as the foreign ministers of other regional groups.

9) Within six months, establish a regional meeting to evaluate the progress made toward these commitments.

10) Adopt agreements which shall increase development in order to make society more egalitarian and free from misery.

The Arias Peace Plan underwent modification and was later renamed the Central American Peace Accord. In 1987, Arias was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his contribution to the Central American peace process. With the monetary award, he founded the Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress to further his vision of democracy in the world.