Costa Rica was the third country in the world to abolish the death penalty in 1877. In 1948, Costa Rica became the first country to formally abolish its armed forces; the Constitution still forbids a standing military. In 1980 President Rodrigo Carazo facilitated the donation of Costa Rican land to establish the United Nations University for Peace (www.upeace.org), approved by the General Assembly of the UN.
President Carazo also proposed, together with the UK, a UN resolution for an ‘International Day of Peace' to be celebrated as a global ceasefire on the opening day of the UN session each year. This resolution was passed in 1981. In 2001, Costa Rica and the UK proposed a new resolution, resetting the date to September 21st each year. The International Day of Peace is now celebrated around the world.
In the mid 1980's, intense conflict and civil war marked Central America. Under the leadership of President Oscar Arias, the Esquipulas II Peace Agreement was signed in 1987. Arias won the Nobel Peace Prize for this achievement.
In 1997, a law for the Alternative Resolution of Conflicts and Promotion of Peace was passed. This law requires peace education in every school.
In September 2009, the Costa Rican legislature passed a law changing the name of the country's justice ministry to the Ministry of Justice and Peace.
The new Ministry is working with non-profit organizations to implement a national plan for peace promotion, such as installing mediation programs in schools all over the country and organising Peace Festivals. Communities are invited to a public place, where peace messages are delivered and a social network is recovered to help prevent crime and promote social peace. There is a National Council for Security and Social Peace, in which all the highest authorities of the government work towards promoting security and peace as a national policy.