Costa Rica's President Oscar Arias Sánchez was awarded the Peace Prize in 1987 for a plan designed to put an end to the cruel civil wars that were devastating Central America. In August 1987, the peace plan was approved by Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. It aimed at free elections, safeguards for human rights, and an end to foreign interference in the countries' internal affairs.
Oscar Arias studied law and economics in Costa Rica, the USA, and Great Britain, and got a doctorate in economics. He joined the social democratic party, and became a member of the government in the 1970s. When he became President in 1986, a civil war was raging in neighboring Nicaragua. Oscar Arias refused the USA permission to use Costa Rican territory in support of the Contras. He rebuked the Sandinistas for their lack of democracy and resisted US attempts to alter the contents of the peace plan that was signed in 1987.