Costa Rica's Oscar Arias to Be Next Downey Fellow at Yale

Nobel Peace Prize-winner Oscar Arias Sanchez will present a free, public lecture at Yale University on January 18 at 5 p.m. in the Art Gallery Lecture Hall, 1111 Chapel St., as the 2000-2001 Downey Fellow.

Arias won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 for serving as the main architect of a plan that settled a long-term conflict among the nations of Central America. He used the monetary award from the prize to establish the Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress, which runs programs that promote gender equality, strengthen civil society in Central America and work for demilitarization and conflict resolution in the developing world.

Born in Costa Rica in 1941, Arias studied law and economics at the University of Costa Rica. He earned a doctorate in 1974 from the University of Essex, England, with a dissertation titled “Who Rules Costa Rica?” Arias launched his political career in 1970 as assistant to Jos Figueres, who was elected president of Costa Rica in 1972. At that time, Arias was named to the cabinet as Minister of National Planning and Political Economy.

Elected president of his country in 1986, Arias brought together the leaders of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua and persuaded them to adopt a peace plan that he had drafted, ending years of war in the region. Arias served as president of Costa Rica until 1990. During his term of office, Costa Rica maintained its position as the richest country in the region and had the healthiest economy, the highest standard of living and the lowest unemployment rate in the hemisphere.

Arias continues to be an international spokesperson for the Third World, championing such issues as human development, demilitarization and democracy.

The Downey Fellowship was established in memory of Russel H. Downey Jr. (B.A. 1944) by family and friends. Administered by Timothy Dwight College, under the direction of Master Robert Farris Thompson, the Downey Fellowship brings to Yale distinguished individuals, predominantly from Latin America, who can expose students to international issues and perspectives. By fostering greater global understanding and communication, the program plays an important role in shaping leaders of the future.

For further information, call 203-387-9201.

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Media Contact

Gila Reinstein: gila.reinstein@yale.edu, 203-432-1325