Joint declaration from UNASUR meeting

Latin America and the Caribbean

Last Friday, the 12 heads of state of UNASUR member countries met in Bariloche, Argentina for a special meeting convened to discuss the pending U.S.-Colombia military base agreement, among other topics. Many of the region's leaders took their turn speaking out against the agreement and the potential for an increased U.S. military presence in South America. However, the final declaration that all members signed did not officially condemn the proposal. Instead, it focused on expressing the need to respect the sovereignty of each nation in the region and strengthen peace throughout the region through confidence, cooperation and transparency. A translation of the final declaration is below:

A joint declaration of the special meeting of the Council of Leaders of UNASUR San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina, August 28, 2009 The heads of state of the South American Union of Nations (UNASUR) together at an extra session on August 28, 2009 in San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina; Reaffirming our commitment to the principles of International Law in reference to relations of friendship and cooperation between States, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations; Recognizinge, equally, that military cooperation agreements must be strictly guided by the principles and intentions of the Charter of the United Nations and the fundamental principles of the Constitutional Treaty of UNASUR; Emphasizing that the unconditional respect of sovereignty, integrity and territorial sanctity of the States, the non-intervention in internal affairs and the self-determination of the people are essential for the consolidation of regional integration; Reiterating our will to consolidate South America into a zone of peace, fundamental for the integral development of our people and the preservation of their natural resources, through the prevention of conflicts, the peaceful solution of controversies and the abstention from reverting to threats or the use of force; Underlying UNASUR's vocation for the peaceful solution to controversies and the promotion of dialogue and consensus in topics of defense through the strengthening of cooperation, confidence and transparency; DECIDE: To strengthen South America as a zone of peace, committing ourselves to establishing mechanisms for mutual confidence in defense and security, sustaining our decision to abstain ourselves from reverting to threats or the use of force against the territorial integrity of another UNASUR state. To reaffirm our commitment to strengthen the fight and cooperation against terrorism and transnational organized crime and its related crimes: narcotrafficking, small and light arms trafficking, in addition to the rejection of the presence or action of illegal armed groups. To reaffirm that the presence of foreign military forces cannot, with its means and resources linked to its own goals, threaten the sovereignty and integrity of any South American nation and as a consequence, the peace and security of the region. To instruct their Ministers of Foreign Relations and Defense to hold an additional meeting, during the first 15 days of next September, so that in the pursuit of improved transparency they design the means to strengthen confidence and security in a way that is complementary to the pre-existing instruments of the OAS, including concrete mechanisms of implementation and guarantees for all applicable countries of the existing agreements with countries within and outside of the region; such as illegal arms trafficking, narcotrafficking and terrorism in compliance with the law of each country. These mechanisms must take into account the unconditional respect for sovereignty, integrity and territorial sanctity and non-intervention in the internal affairs of the States; To instruct the South American Defense Council to analyze the text of the "South American Strategy. White Paper, Air Mobility Command" and carry out a verification of the situation on the borders and submit the resulting study to the Council of Heads of State with the goal of considering courses of action to follow. To instruct the South American Council on the Fight against Narcotrafficking to develop urgently a Statute and Plan of Action with the objective of defining a South American strategy in the fight against illicit drug trafficking and strengthening the cooperation between specialized organisms from our countries.