The Number 1 Democracy in Latin America
Much has been said about the country's democracy. In 1979, an Inter-American Human Rights Court was established in San José and its fine reputation is known worldwide. Costa Rica was selected as the Court's site in recognition of its great respect for human rights throughout its history. Later, the United Nations favoured the country by establishing the University for Peace near the picturesque
town of Ciudad Colón (previously known as Villa Colón) for its adherence to peace and political stability. The Earth Counsel, reputable international institution, was also located there because of the country's good and sustained environmental policies and active programs of conservation of natural resources.
The International Court of Justice, with headquarters in Le Hague, established an office in San José to handle all problems relating to national boundaries which occasionally come up between Latin American countries and which require impartial arbitration by a third party.
In 1983, the then president Luis Alberto Monge proclaimed the active and perpetual neutrality of Costa Rica as a nation. And in 1987, then President Oscar Arias won international prestige and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his sustained efforts which were very instrumental in bringing peace to Central America through the peace plan that he proposed. In March 2003, the well-known political figure and lawyer Elizabeth Odio Benitez was inducted into the newly created International Penal Court headquartered in Holland for a period of 8 years and elected as its vice-president. This designation, of course, was an honour bestowed not only to Ms. Odio, but also to Costa Rica for its long-standing efforts in maintaining democracy and human values.
The Country Has Led the Way in Many Respects
Costa Rica has been a leader and pioneer among Latin American countries in several respects. In 1813, it abolished slavery. Then in
1882, it abolished the death penalty. Surprisingly, it was abolished by President Tomás Guardia who was considered a dictator and ruled for 12 years. Who would have thought that a strong army general when in power would abolish the death penalty?