Former President Oscar Arias is an Advisory Board member of the Global Security Institute. The former President of Costa Rica, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to establish a peace treaty with Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, four neighbors torn by civil war. He has persistently worked for peace in the region, convinced that negotiation, not war, is the best means for achieving it. He released this statement on the current conflict in Ukraine, in conjunction with fellow Nobel Peace Laureates:
I do believe in the power of reason and the strength of dialogue. In an ideal world, any conflict or difference between countries should be resolved through dialogue and negotiation. The use of military force should always be a last resort.
The invasion of Ukraine by Russia is a flagrant violation of international law and the Charter of the United Nations. In these ten days that have elapsed since the beginning of the aggression by land, air, and sea against the Ukrainian people, we have heard only talk of sanctions for the Russian population, for high-ranking government officials, for important State institutions, and for Putin’s inner circle. On the other hand, countless governments and international organizations have extended a generous hand to the people of Ukraine, who are today suffering the dramatic consequences of a ruthless attack on their population and territory.
However, the main clamor is to send as much armament as possible so that the brave Ukrainians can face the Russian tanks and aviation, which makes us think that the war will go on for a long time.
There have been sporadic meetings on the border of Belarus and Ukraine between officials of both sides, but at a low level and without decision-making authority on important issues. However, I believe that the time has come to go to a negotiating table to talk and negotiate as soon as possible a ceasefire that will silence the guns and allow us to reach agreements that will lead us to the end of this conflict. It is not by escalating the conflict that the war will be solved.
The lesson I learned from having reached agreements in the Central American wars of the 1980s is that the interlocutors must be at the highest level, such as foreign ministers and, preferably, heads of government.
Achieving peace will never be an easy task and will never be a finished task. We should not lose hope when the solution seems very far away because, as our poet Isaac Felipe Azofeifa said:
– Truly, son,
all the stars have departed.
But it never gets darker
than when the dawn is about to break.
We, the undersigning Nobel Peace Laureates, support the Plea of President Oscar Arias and call upon the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, US, EU, UK to make concrete actions in order to achieve a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
President Oscar Arias, Nobel Peace Laureate 1987
President Lech Walesa, Nobel Peace Laureate 1983
President Jose Ramos-Horta, Nobel Peace Laureate 1996
Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Laureate 1997
Lord William David Trimble, Nobel Peace Laureate 1998
Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Laureate 2006
Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Peace Laureate 2011
Juan Manuel Santos, Nobel Peace Prize 2016
Philip Jennings and Lisa Clark, Co-Presidents of the International Peace Bureau, Nobel Peace Organization 2010
Kailash Sathyarthi, Nobel Peace Laureate 2014
Jonathan Granoff is the President of the Global Security Institute, a representative to United Nations of the World Summits of Nobel Peace Laureates, a former Adjunct Professor of International Law at Widener University School of Law, and Senior Advisor to the Committee on National Security American Bar Association International Law Section.