Costa Rican President Oscar Arias to Keynote 2011 Borah Symposium

by Joni Kirk

MOSCOW, Idaho – Former Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, who was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 for his instrumental efforts in ending the decades of political violence that wracked the countries of Central America, will provide the keynote lecture at the University of Idaho’s 2011 Borah Symposium.

The symposium is scheduled for April 4-6 on the University of Idaho campus. Arias’ presentation will be held on Tuesday, April 5, at 7 p.m. in the Student Union Building Ballroom, 709 Deakin Ave. in Moscow.

As an international spokesperson for peace, his message can be summed up in a simple statement: “No nation should be secure but in liberty, rich but in compassion, nor strong but in the sense that other nations share equal fortitude.”

Arias will discuss setting the struggle for peace within a context of a rapidly changing and globalizing world. He believes that the idea of real peace in the new millennium will only be achieved by promoting human security. Arias will share the key challenges of poverty and inequality, and explain why these issues affect wealthy countries as well.

Arias was elected president in 1986. As president, he intervened against the activities of U.S.-backed Contras on Costa Rican territory. Although critical of the political system in Nicaragua, Arias concentrated on engaging Nicaragua and the other Central American states in a peace-making process. In May 1986, he met with the presidents of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua to discuss the proposals for a peaceful solution that had been worked out by the Contadora group. They did not reach full agreement, but early in 1987, Arias succeeded in calling a new meeting at which he submitted his own peace plan that departed in some respects from the Contadora plan. The accord finally approved by the five presidents in Guatemala was based on his plan.

Theogene Rudasingwa, former Rwandan ambassador to the U.S., also will speak at the symposium. He will spend a month at the university to teach a class on human security, in addition to speaking at the Borah Symposium.

As the first ambassador in post-genocide Rwanda, Rudasingwa contributed to shaping the country’s new relationship with the U.S. Prior to his service as ambassador, Rudasingwa was the secretary general of the Rwandese Patriotic Front and provided leadership to stop the genocide and save lives. He coordinated management, political, diplomatic and humanitarian activities after the signing of the Arusha Peace Agreement in 1994. He was a leading team member in the establishment of the Government of National Unity in Rwanda.

Additional details about the symposium will be available at a later date.

The Borah Symposium is sponsored by the university’s William Edgar Borah Outlawry of War Foundation, a separately endowed foundation at the University of Idaho established in 1929 to honor and continue the work of Idaho Sen. William Borah by considering the causes of war and the conditions necessary for peace in an international context.  Supported by the university’s Martin Institute, the Borah Foundation was created to advance research and teaching about the causes of conflict and peaceful resolution. For more than 60 years, the Borah Foundation has sponsored an annual program on the general theme of the causes of war and the conditions necessary for a lasting peace. In 1938, the Borah Foundation sponsored its first program, an address by Eleanor Roosevelt, a well-known advocate for peace and human rights. To commemorate her visit to the campus, she planted a Douglas fir tree which can still be seen across from the main entrance to the university’s Administration Building. Additional information is available at www.uidaho.edu/class/borah.

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