Speaker

Laura Chinchilla

Former President of Costa Rica


Laura Chinchilla Miranda, the first woman President of the Republic of Costa Rica, has dedicated her career to public service and consulting for international organizations.

Her election to the presidency was preceded by a successful political career that began with her appointment as Minister of Public Security – the first woman to hold that position – from 1996 to 1998. While in that role, she also served as President of the National Immigration Board and the National Drug Council. In 2002 she was elected to a four-year term as a member of the National Congress, where she chaired the Committee on Legal Affairs and the Committee on Narcotics. In 2006, she was elected Vice President of Costa Rica, assuming office as the Ministry of Justice at the same time. Finally, in 2010 she conquered the presidency of the country.

During her years of public service, she promoted policies regarding citizen security, including the professionalization and modernization of the police; the reform of the criminal and criminal procedure codes; the adoption of laws against drug trafficking and organized crime; and diverse modalities of citizen participation in preventing violence. One of her most outstanding achievements as president was the steady decline in major crime rates in Costa Rica, including homicide and femicide.

Laura also prompted measures on institutional reform of the Costa Rican government, digital government, women's rights, protecting children, and environmental sustainability. Her efforts in the latter area, especially in the protection of the seas, earned her two important international recognitions: the "Excellence in National Stewardship" Peter Benchley Ocean Award in 2011 and the "Shark Guardian of the Year" in 2013.

Along with her public career, Laura dedicated part of her professional career to the international sector. She has worked as a consultant in Latin America and Africa with various international organizations in the area of institutional reform, with particular emphasis on judicial and public security reform. Relevant tasks performed include diagnostics on the justice sector for the Agency for International Development (USAID); coordination of studies and projects on judicial reform for the United Nations Program for Development (UNDP); and assessments and advice on police reform to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). She has been part of a number of initiatives to promote reforms in citizen security and human rights throughout Latin America.

Laura has lectured at various forums and written several publications in both Spanish and English on topics related to the administration of justice, public security, and police reform. A graduate of the Universidad de Costa Rica, she also holds a Master in Public Policy from Georgetown University and Honorary Doctorates from the University for Peace of the United Nations, Georgetown University, and Kyoto University of Foreign Studies.