Former Costa Rican President Oscar Arias received an honourary doctorate from Carleton University this week.
Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987, Arias expressed his admiration during his recent visit for Canada’s role in peacekeeping and support to developing countries. He also expressed dismay at the rise in Canadian military spending:
“I do complain that it is unnecessary for Canada to spend this much on arms and soldiers when the rest of the world loves Canada,” he said. “You have no enemies, so I think it is wise to reduce your military spending, and spend that money on your people and also increase cooperation with developing countries.”
Arias might have gone further.
He was a leader among Nobel laureates in 1997 calling for international standards to govern the movement of conventional arms across borders. This call resulted in the process now under way to negotiate an Arms Trade Treaty at the United Nations in July 2012. Canada’s recent backtracking on support for a comprehensive and effective ATT might have prompted more comments from Arias on Canada’s current international stand had he been asked.