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Pope Francis

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Nobel prize winner Oscar Arias criticizes hawkish foreign policy, pushes for ceasefire in Syria

2013-09-26

Two-time president of Costa Rica and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Dr. Oscar Arias lashed out against the leading world leaders willingness to use military force, rather than peaceful means to solve conflict.  

He presented his remarks at Rome's Community of St. Egidio. During his speech, the former president expressed his disappointment with fellow Peace Prize recipient Barack Obama, and his push for limited strikes against the Syrian government.

DR. OSCAR ARIAS
Former president of Costa Rica
"In any strikes, there will be deaths of innocent civilians. I find it very cynical the use of the term collateral damage.”

The Nobel committee awarded Arias with the Peace Prize in 1987, one year after the start of his first term as Costa Rican president. He launched an initiative to stop the continued bickering, that at times led to war, among Central American countries. He argued that his experience showed that building peace is not an easy process, but it can be done without the use of force.
Dr. Arias also supported the recent diplomatic breakthrough that would place Syria's chemical weapons under international control. But he added that he wants to see the United Nations take further steps to stop the violence.

DR. OSCAR ARIAS
Former president of Costa Rica
"I hope that the resolution will not just focus on having the Syrian government give up their chemical weapons, but also to reach a ceasefire that will put an end to the civil war as soon as possible.”

Whether that will happens remains to be seen. But Arias added that the task will remain very difficult as long weapons keep making their way to the Syrian government and the rebels.

He noted that the five permanent Security Council members are also the top weapon makers and dealers.

DR. OSCAR ARIAS
Former president of Costa Rica
"In the end, it all depends on the values of each government. Up until today, they place their interests above their values. There will come a day when values will be placed over the interests of weapon manufacturers.”

During his second term as president of Costa Rica, Arias introduced the Arms Trade Treaty, an international agreement to limit and oversee the lucrative sale of weapons. During his speech, Arias said that even though the treaty will not impact the war in Syria, it could help in future conflicts. 

The United Nations adopted the treaty in April 2012, with an overwhelming majority, 153 countries, in favor. So far, only four have ratified the treaty. It'll go into effect once 50 countries have ratified the agreement.


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