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Oscar Arias Sánchez: 1941—: Former Costa Rican President, Writer, Activist

Founded An Organization For Peace

Less than a year after accepting the Nobel Prize, Arias founded the Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress, an organization devoted to building just and peaceful societies in Central America. Funded with an endowment from the Nobel Prize's monetary award, as well as grants from public and private organizations, the foundation established three programs: The Center for Human Progress, to promote equal opportunities for women; the Center for Organized Participation, to foster change-oriented philanthropy in Latin America; and the Center for Peace and Reconciliation, to work for demilitarization and conflict resolution in the developing world.

Because his country's Constitution did not allow him a second term as president, Arias stepped down in April of 1990. He accepted a visiting professorship at Harvard University and set out to delve into international affairs and crisis resolution. Since that time he has been active in the work of his foundation, as well as a member or officer of multiple organizations, including Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, International Press Service, the Inter-American Dialogue, and the Gorbachev Foundation. He has also been active with the Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia, working with fellow Nobel laureate and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. The Carter Center is involved in such programs as the International Negotiation Network (INN), which includes former heads of state and other prominent individuals who serve as mediators in peace negotiations, monitor elections, and conduct behind-the-scenes diplomacy. He has also joined other Nobel Peace laureates on such issues as promoting arms trade restrictions and bringing attention to Burma's deplorable human-rights record.

In 1973 Arias married Margarita Peñón Góngora, a biochemist who was educated at Vassar College in the United States. The couple have two children, Silvia Eugenia and Oscar Felipe. Arias has published a number of books and articles and remains a committed champion of world peace.

Selected writings

Significado del movimiento estudiantil en Costa Rica, 1970.

Grupos de presion en Costa Rica, 1971.

Quien gobierna en Costa Rica? Un estudio del liderazgo formal en Costa Rica, 1974.

Planificacion y desarrollo regional y local latinamericano, contributor, 1975.

Democracia, independencia y sociedad latinoamericana, 1977.

Los caminos para el desarrollo de Costa Rica, 1977. Costa Rica in the Year 2000, 1977.

Nuevos rumbos para el desarrollo costarricense, 1979.



Globe & Mail (Toronto), August 21, 2002.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 4, 2002.

San Francisco Chronicle, March 29, 2002.

Time Magazine, February 17, 1986; March 1, 1993.

Wall Street Journal, May 23, 1986; October 14, 1987; January 14, 1988; March 23, 1988; March 31, 1989; October 5, 1990; December 6, 1991; February 28, 1992.


"Dr. Oscar Arias Sánchez Biography," The Arias Foundation, www.arias.or.cr/fundador/bio-e.htm/ (March 31, 2003).

—Kelly M. Martinez

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Dudley Randall Biography - A Poet from an Early Age to Ferrol Sams Jr BiographyOscar Arias Sánchez: 1941—: Former Costa Rican President, Writer, Activist Biography - Chose A Political Path, Led The Pln To Victory, Sought Peace For Central America, Founded An Organization For Peace