Nobel Peace Prize Winner Discusses World Peace, War Against Terrorism

  • News Photo 649
    Oscar Arias Sanchez, winner of the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize and former president of Costa Rica.
    Photo By: Clifford S Cheney IV / Baylor Photography
  • News Photo 651
    Oscar Arias Sanchez, winner of the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize and former president of Costa Rica.
    Photo By: Clifford S Cheney IV / Baylor Photography
Oct. 9, 2002

by Amanda Lewis, Student Newswriter

Nobel Peace Prize winner Oscar Arias Sanchez spoke to Baylor University students on issues of world peace and the fight against terrorism during his Chapel appearance Oct. 2 in Waco Hall.

Arias served as president of Costa Rica from 1986 to 1990. He probably is best known for the development of the Arias Plan that called for peace among Central American nations for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987.

Commonly referred to as the "spokesperson of the free world," Arias now travels the globe speaking to groups and universities to spread his message of freedom and justice for all citizens.

"Colleges and universities are among my favorite places to speak because the audience is always full of energy and dedication to both deep thought and committed action," Arias said, as he opened his speech.

He approached a number of issues throughout the hour, including the world's current battle against terrorism. He explained that while we will indefinitely encounter obstacles, we must not live in fear, and while reconciliation will take time, we must continue to persevere.

Arias proposed that world leaders must fight the battle peacefully, without the use of weapons of mass destruction.

"When pacts are broken, it is more sensible to return to the negotiating table than it is to endure a bloody battle which produces no victors and no solutions," Arias said. "When phased with the roots of violence, which so openly stem from poverty, hunger and injustice, it is far more noble to address those issues than to keep pouring money into weapons."

He also called for cooperation among nations to improve the quality of life for people in less developed countries, asking for responsibility to be shared between the people in industrialized nations and the leaders of struggling areas.

Arias brought attention to the severe malnutrition and diseases that have swept less developed nations, as well as the dangerous shortage of drinkable water in those regions. He declared the world to be in a "spiritual and moral crisis" that does not receive the same media attention as the world's fight against terrorism.

"Five percent of what the world spend on weapons and soldiers over 10 years will be sufficient to guarantee basic education, health care and nutrition, drinkable water and sanitation to all of the world's people," he said.

Arias concluded his address by challenging society's values. He spoke about the current emphasis on greed, cynicism and a false sense of morality that must be replaced for the world to be at peace.

"I therefore challenge you, my dear friends, to support political candidates that will advance social justice, to speak out on behalf of the poor and oppressed," Arias said. "I do not believe that the fate of this planet is written in the stars. It is written in the hearts of mean and women, and hearts, like heavenly bodies, can change their course."

Following his appearances in Chapel, Arias attended a luncheon and question-and-answer session with Baylor students at the Baptist Student Ministries building on campus.

For more information on Arias, see his biography at the Nobel e-Museum web site at http://www.nobel.se/peace/laureates/1987/arias-bio.html.

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