• Jim Stefan

A NATION KNOWN FOR PEACE CONTINUES TO LEAD WITH ITS OWN HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN


The Costa Rican soccer team and the country’s president, with first lady and son, holding up the custom What Are Human Rights? Booklets featuring every player.

Costa Rica is known as an example of peace and democracy, and ensuring this reputation never fades is a human rights educational program reaching every corner of the nation.


Costa Rica is known for its stable democracy, for investing more of its yearly budget in education than the global average and for demolishing its standing army in 1948. The architect of the nation’s peace is former president Dr. Óscar Arias Sánchez, who received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to end the Central American civil wars. This led to the signing of a 1987 peace plan approved by five Central American nations.


When, in 2017, Dr. Arias was invited to the International Human Rights Summit at the UN in New York, he and his wife, Suzanne Fischel, found Youth for Human Rights (YHR), and it was a natural fit. They began to work closely with the YHR Costa Rica team, which is helmed by Marco Aurelio Zuñiga and comprised of his wife, Tatiana Salgado, their children and volunteers.


The YHR team reached out through media from La Extra newspaper to Teletica Radio 91.5 FM, Channel 7 Television and others—an audience of over 2 million. They then spoke to students in schools and universities, including at the Colegio Técnico Profesional, the National University, the Santa Cruz High School and more.


The next action was through Costa Rica’s national sport—soccer. After the president of the Costa Rica National Soccer Federation was briefed, he quickly came on board. With the help of Fischel, a custom booklet featuring the soccer players and all 30 rights was created. It was then officially launched at the farewell event for the national soccer team leaving for the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia. At the launch was Costa Rican president, Carlos Alvarado Quesada. Each player, the president and other attending dignitaries received the new booklet. With these in hand, YHR Costa Rica volunteers, joined by Dr. Arias and Fischel, distributed them at the Costa Rica National Soccer Stadium to fans at the team’s farewell game. In total, they have now distributed more than 128,000 copies of the booklet.


To ensure human rights become part of the fabric of society, YHR Costa Rica partnered with the Institute of Development and Municipal Advisory (IFAM), which advises Costa Rican local governments—a total of 82 municipalities. The institute immediately wanted their trainers to learn to deliver to others and then train them as well. The program started with 10 seminars for 361 IFAM participants.


Through effective human rights education, Costa Rica is continuing to set an example to the world as a country of education and peace.






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