Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera is awarded an honorary degree in politics from Korea University
The degree honors his contributions to establishing peace in Central America and his efforts to uphold the universal values of mankind.
The Costa Rican government signed an MOU to lay the groundwork for a government-scholarship program for Costa Rican students.
▲ (From the left to the right) Gil-Sung Park, Dean of the Graduate School and Professor of Sociology at Korea University; Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera, President of the Republic of Costa Rica; Jaeho Yeom, President of Korea University
On October 12, Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera, President of the Republic of Costa Rica, was awarded an honorary doctorate degree in politics from Korea University at the International Teleconference Room in KU’s Centennial Memorial Hall.
Korea University presented President Solís the degree in recognition of his major contributions to the peace and stability of Central America and his continuous pursuit of the universal values of mankind: education, peace, cooperation, fraternity, and support for racial and cultural diversity.
After earning a Master's degree in the United States, President Solís returned to Costa Rica and taught history and politics at the University of Costa Rica for over 30 years and authored 10 books and more than 60 papers. In addition to teaching, he was actively involved in the administration of the university, serving as Associate Dean of the College of Political Science and Associate Dean of the College of Social Science. His academic career shows his strong commitment to education, and it led him to serve as an advisor to the Academic Council on the United Nations System and a consultant to the United Nations Development Programme.
His achievements in the political realm are just as noteworthy. President Solís played a pivotal role in successful negotiations for the “Central American Peace Plan,” which helped end the bloody conflicts in Central America. In the 1980s, civil wars in Nicaragua and El Salvador became complicated due to the involvement of other countries with different ideologies, including the United States, the Soviet Union, and Cuba. The then Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, who was remained neutral, proposed the “Central American Peace Plan” to all international parties concerned and led the mediation process. During that time, Solís, who was the Chief Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs at the time, played a prominent role in aiding in the peace process.
President Solís also has been active in international organizations working for peace, cooperation, and philanthropy. He led and managed the Arias Foundation for Peace and Reconciliation Center —an organization created to commemorate former President Oscar Arias, the 1987 Nobel Peace Laureate, for initiating the Central American Peace Plan and to promote peace and reconciliation in Central America. Moreover, he played an essential role in building the Foundation for Peace and Democracy to develop human resources in Central America.
President Solís, who was heavily involved in international activities, began to focus more on the domestic political arena in the early 2000s. He served as the secretary general of the National Liberation Party between 2002 and 2003 and was elected the presidential candidate of the Citizens Action Party in 2013. In the 2014 Costa Rican presidential election, he won with 77.99% of the electoral vote. Thanks to his popularity among the people, President Solís is regarded as a strong and inclusive leader.
Just before the conferment ceremony, Korea University signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the government of Costa Rica for a scholarship program for high-achieving Costa Rican students applying for undergraduate admission to Korea University. Recently, Korea University has started the “KU Latin America Project,” in which Korea University grants admissions to a maximum of three high school students among many applicants recommended by the Costa Rican Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Korea University offers full scholarships to them, in addition to providing housing and stipends for living expenses.
On the same day, Korea University and the Costa Rican Ministry of Science, Technology and Telecommunications signed another MOU for a scholarship program for graduate studies at Korea University. Korea University will reduce 75% of tuition and admission fees of Costa Rican graduate students at Korea University (for up to two years for those in Master’s programs and for up to four years for those in doctoral programs).
In his congratulatory speech at the conferment ceremony, President Jaeho Yeom of Korea University said, “Since I assumed the presidency of Korea University last year, I have visited several Latin American countries. And I found that Latin America has limitless potential in the 21st century with the upcoming Fourth Industrial Revolution. Experts agree that, just as China has emerged as a great economic power, Latin America will play a pivotal role in the global economy like the United States and Europe within two or three decades. I believe that, among all the Latin American countries, Costa Rica has the greatest potential to be the leader of the region in the 21st century.” And he added, “Based on the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Republic of Costa Rica and Korea University today, we will provide scholarships to students in Costa Rica and nurture them as experts in Korea and ‘pioneering intellectuals’ who will lead the future of the two countries. I would like to ask universities in Costa Rica to join Korea University’s endeavor for the new century. This year marks the 54th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between South Korea and Costa Rica. I hope that this honorary doctorate will serve as significant momentum for enhancing the friendship between the two countries.”
President Solís said, "As we meet here today, we have a great responsibility of colossal human dimensions before us. It is something that concerns both the current and future generations. In a world in urgent need of effective measures towards the prohibition of nuclear weapons, peace and security are indeed global public goodS that cannot be overshadowed by the permanent threat of weapons. As the representative of Costa Rica, a country with a cherished tradition of promoting international peace and security, I take part in this emblematic event making a call to renew international efforts towards nuclear disarmament and expressing our commitment to irreversibly achieve nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, as a necessary contribution to world peace and sustainable development." and he said "Nearly seventy years ago, my country abolished its army and ever since our national security has relied on dialogue, negotiations between States and full compliance with International Law. This was the only path for us. Therefore, our only weapon has been and will be the reliance on International Law and international organizations to preserve and defend our national sovereignty and promote Human Development. Like the Republic of Korea, Costa Rica supports all initiatives aimed at restoring trust in multilateral institutions the Rule of Law as the cornerstone fo international understanding. I am sure this is something highly desired by both our peace loving societies."
During his visit to the University of Costa Rica in July this year, President Yeom delivered a special lecture on how important it is for Costa Rican students to reinvent themselves in order to tap into new opportunities in Latin America. He also had met with Marcelo Jenkins Coronas, the Minister of Science, Technology and Telecommunications, and discussed the details of a science and technology cooperation between the two organizations. And the two leaders reached a consensus on the need to sign an MOU to cement their cooperation.
Korea University is undertaking the “KU Latin America Project” as part of its efforts to enhance intellectual exchange with the Spanish-speaking region. President Yeom has visited several Central American countries to expand Korea University’s global leadership program. Starting with the signing of a student exchange agreement with the University of Havana in Cuba this summer, Korea University is actively working with many institutions and organizations in Latin America, including Mexico and Costa Rica. Korea University sent the first group of 30 students to Costa Rica this year to train them as experts in Latin America. Costa Rica will serve as a foothold for Korea University to build networks in Latin America and cultivate experts in the region.