Lecture Series Brings 1987 Nobel Prize Winner To CSU March 7

COLUMBUS, Ga. --- The 1987 Nobel Peace Prize winner, a former president of Costa Rica, will be in Columbus on March 7 to give a lecture on the Columbus State University campus.

Oscar Arias Sanchez was president of Costa Rica from 1986 to 1990 and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 for his efforts to end years of political violence in Central America. He will be speaking at CSU on March 7 at 12:30 p.m. in the Fine Arts Hall Auditorium as the second speaker in the annual Hunter Lecture Series.

President Arias' presentation will be entitled 'International Peace and Social Justice: A Long-Term Vision.' Admission is free.

'We are honored to be able to bring a Nobel laureate to our campus and to Columbus,' said Columbus State University President Frank Brown. 'Having President Arias here will be a real education for all of us. His vision and his experiences are truly remarkable.'

When Oscar Arias was elected president of Costa Rica in 1986, Central America was a region of great discord. Civil War in Guatemala had claimed 100,000 and Honduras and Costa Rica faced an increasing threat of involvement in the conflicts.

Arias began negotiating for peace on his first day in office, bringing together the presidents of nine Latin American countries, the first of several historic meetings that eventually resulted in what is widely known as the Arias Peace Plan. Drafted in 1987, the plan called for internal dialogue, cease-fire, freedom of speech and free elections in El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua.

Arias' work led the Norwegian Nobel Committee to award him the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize. In announcing their choice for the award, the committee said: 'A prerequisite for lasting peace is the realization of democratic ideals, with freedom and equality for all. In the opinion of the committee, Oscar Arias is a strong spokesman for those ideals. The importance of his work for peace will extend beyond Central America.'

In 1988, Arias used the monetary award from the Nobel Peace Prize to establish the Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress to promote just and peaceful societies in Central America and other regions.

Since the conclusion of his term of office in 1990, Arias has continued to be 'a man of the people,' promoting such innovative ideas as human development, global governance, and human security.

One example is Arias' commitment to curtail the global arms trade. On May 29, 1997, he met with seven other Nobel Peace laureates to publicly unveil an International Code of Conduct on Arms Transfers. Arias' proposal stipulates that any country wishing to purchase arms must meet certain criteria, including the promotion of democracy, the protection of human rights, and the transparency in military spending

He speaks often about arms trade, as well as human development in the Americas, values, leadership and the ongoing struggle for international peace.

'The visit of Dr. Arias will enable our students and faculty to understand the threats to domestic and international peace that plague all countries and prompt us to become better global citizens,' said Neal R. McCrillis, director of CSU's Center for International Education. 'Students, particularly those in our Latin American and Spanish programs, will have a unique first-hand experience with the one of the great leaders of contemporary Latin America'

Prior to Arias' arrival, CSU will stage a pair of public forums to provide background information on Arias and his activities:

* CSU history professor Doug Thompson will speak on 'Costa Rican History and the Central American Crisis of the 1980s,' at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28 in Arnold 101.

* At 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 5, a screening of the 25-minute documentary 'Arms for the Poor' will feature Arias detailing an investigation of the role of U.S. arms manufacturers in poverty and conflict in developing countries. CSU professors John Studstill (sociology) and Thomas Dolan (political science) will lead a post-screening discussion. The program will take place in Illges 318. Admission is free.

The Hunter Lecture Series is made possible by a gift from Madge Hunter and her husband James W. Hunter, a CSU supporter and believer in the optimum delivery of higher education.

For more information, please see http://psysoc.colstate.edu/schmidt/arias.htm.

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