1987 Nobel Peace Prize – Óscar Arias Sánchez, Central American Peacemaker

Óscar Arias Sánchez received the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to bring peace and reconciliation to Central America with the Arias Peace Plan, or the Esquiplulas Accords.

In the mid to late 1980s, leftist guerrillas were fighting against the governments in El Salvador and Guatemala, which were backed by the United States as Cold War allies. The US recruited and funded the Contras to stage an insurgency against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. Honduras was being used as a base for U.S. military forces;  Panama was under the thumb of Noriega’s military dictatorship.

In May 1986, Central American leaders attended a summit meeting convened by Arias at dawn, and agreed to work toward a peace plan. In February, 1987, Arias submitted the resulting peace plan, which provided an agreed upon framework for economic cooperation and peaceful conflict resolution. It was signed by the Central American leaders on August 7, 1987, and brought about an end to the major conflicts in the region.

With the implementation of the plan, the various armed conflicts ended within the decade. Guatemala’s civil war finally ended in 1996.

Arias received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 for his work.  He was again elected President of Costa Rica and served from 2006-2010.