DR OSCAR ARIAS, KEYNOTE SPEAKER

  • Jim Bolger
Prime Minister

President John Stott, Dr Oscar Arias, delegates, ladies and gentlemen.

For those of you who did not recognise the stirring music played as we entered the auditorium a few moments ago, I can tell you that it was the national anthem of Costa Rica.

As such it was highly appropriate; and in more ways than one.

Not only was it welcoming Dr Arias, a former President of that country, but it also happens that as we speak Costa Rica is celebrating its national day, marking its independence in 1821.

Since I was told a few weeks ago that the anthem was to be played, I asked for a translation of the words.

They are quite beautiful and I was particularly struck by these two lines:

"Though your sons are but peasants,
their labours eternal
Esteem, renown and honour have won."

Dr Arias is a son of Costa Rica, perhaps its most illustrious in many years.

He has most certainly won 'esteem, renown and honour' which are rare in abundance.

Among the many accolades he has received is the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize; awarded for his determination and success in bringing stability to a region that had been too volatile for too long.

The accord which bears his name and which he negotiated the Arias Peace Plan brought peace not only to his country but also to those of his neighbours. Today he has extended his role, as a man of peace, to encompass the whole world.

He is a member of the International Negotiation Network, a group of former Heads of State and other dignitaries - along with former United States President Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Javier Perez de Cuellar - who act as roving 'pourers of oil on troubled waters'.

He is by his very nature a peace-maker. And we recall what it says in the 'Beatitudes':

Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the children of God.

Ladies and gentlemen, I take great pleasure in introducing Dr Oscar Arias.