San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

President Arias Sought Disarmament Abroad

At home and abroad, President Oscar Arias this year urged the world to sign on to two major international disarmament initiatives.

The Arms Trade Treaty would crack down on the trade of arms to countries violating human rights, while the Costa Rican Consensus would restructure foreign aid to reward developing nations that cut their military spending.

Supporting disarmament “gives Costa Rica prestige,” Arias told The Tico Times in an interview in January. “Now we have a foreign policy – before, we didn’t.”

In October, Arias declared that as a member of the United Nations Security Council in 2008, Costa Rica would push for an international treaty to regulate the global arms trade.

“As a country without an army for 59 years, we have an authoritative voice in the matter,” said Arias, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 for his role in the Central American Peace Accords.

Meanwhile, one of the president’s older disarmament goals – making Central America the world’s first demilitarized region – appeared to have fallen by the wayside.

He continued to occasionally mention it in public, as he did in January in response to Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s refusal to destroy missiles as the United States had requested of it, but told The Tico Times it’s a highly unlikely prospect.

“I don’t see any political possibility that any other government in the region wants to end its army,” said Arias, who added that his role in Panama’s decision to abolish its army in 1994 was “a beautiful demonstration of Costa Rican imperialism.”


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