Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL)

Overview

The Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL) is an inter-governmental agency created by the Treaty of Tlatelolco to ensure that the obligations of the Treaty are met. Since 1998, all 33 states in Latin America and the Caribbean have been Members of OPANAL. OPANAL is responsible for convoking regular and special general conferences and consultation meetings related to the established purposes, means, and procedures of the Treaty. OPANAL also supervises the adherence to the Control System and the obligations stemming from the Treaty of Tlatelolco.

General Conference

The General Conference is one of the three main bodies of OPANAL, which convenes for regular sessions biennially and for special sessions when deemed necessary. The General Conference has a number of duties: studying and ruling on any issue or matter addressed in the Treaty of Tlatelolco, including those that refer to the powers and functions of OPANAL’s administrative bodies; establishing procedures to ensure the adherence to the Control System established by the treaty; electing the members of the council; electing and dismissing the secretary-general; receiving and reviewing biennial and special reports presented by the council and the secretary-general; establishing agreements with governments and international agencies; approving the agency’s budget and establishing the financial contributions scale for Member States; electing the authorities for each session of the General Conference; establishing any subsidiary organization deemed necessary; and approving the Rules of Procedure.

Council

The council consists of five members who meet regularly every two months and in special meetings as is necessary. The members are elected for a term of four years. The governments of, Brazil, Guatemala, Mexico, Paraguay and Peru currently comprise the Council.

Secretariat

The Secretariat consists of the secretary-general, who is the chief administrative officer of the agency, and the staff. The secretary-general is appointed for four years and may be re-elected to serve a single additional term. The secretary-general may not be a national of the host country (Mexico). Ambassador Luiz Filipe de Macedo Soares (Brazil) will hold the position of Secretary-General for the period from 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2021.

Verification and Compliance

Verification

On 26 August 1992, during its eighth extraordinary session, OPANAL's General Conference approved amendments to Articles 14, 15, 16, 19, and 20 relating to the verification and control system established by the Tlatelolco Treaty. The purpose of these amendments was to strengthen the verification system while recognizing the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as the only organization capable of carrying out special inspections requested by parties to the Treaty. The 1992 General Conference at the same time upheld the principle that the organs of OPANAL would continue to be responsible for monitoring the application of the treaty's control system. It should be emphasized that, although the approved amendments modify the verification system, none of the modifications alters the fundamental principles or the essence of the Tlatelolco Treaty.

Compliance

If a party were found to be in non-compliance, the IAEA would refer the case to the United Nations Security Council.

Developments

2017

On 14 February, the Foreign Ministers of the Member States convened in Mexico City for the XXV General Conference and to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Treaty of Tlatelolco. All six States parties to the Additional Protocols of the Treaty of Tlatelolco as well as 34 non-member States attended the commemoration. The General Conference passed a resolution re-electing Secretary-General Ambassador Luiz Filipe de Macedo Soares for a second term (1 January 2018 to 31 December 2021).

On 28 March, Secretary-General Ambassador Luiz Filipe De Macedo Soares delivered a statement at the United Nations “Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, Leading Towards their Total Elimination.” States parties to the Treaty of Tlatelolco submitted a working paper to the Conference that outlined seven essential elements for a legally binding instrument on the prohibition of nuclear weapons.

On 4 May, Secretary-General Ambassador Luiz Filipe de Macedo Soares delivered a statement at the First PrepCom for the 2020 NPT Review Conference in which he highlighted OPANAL’s contributions to the nonproliferation regime and stressed the importance of NWFZs for the disarmament agenda.

2016

On 18 January, the OPANAL Council passed resolution C/Res.01/2016 condemning the nuclear-weapon test conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

On 5 February, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano visited OPANAL Headquarters and discussed the progress made by each Member State in implementing their comprehensive nuclear safeguards with the IAEA.

On 11 May, Secretary-General Ambassador Luiz Filipe de Macedo Soares delivered a statement  at the Open-ended Working Group on “Taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations.

In September, Secretary-General Ambassador Luiz Filipe de Macedo Soares delivered a statement at the IAEA 60th General Conference. The Secretary-General reaffirmed the relationship between OPANAL and the IAEA.

On 15 September, the OPANAL Council passed a resolution condemning the nuclear-weapon test conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

On 10 November, the 24th Special Session of the General Conference of OPANAL took place in Mexico and was chaired by the Ambassador of Ecuador in Mexico, Mr. Leonardo Arízaga Schmegel. Member States reviewed the status of the treaty and adopted resolutions on nonproliferation education.

2015

On 19 March, Secretary-General of OPANAL Luiz Filipe De Soares presided over the opening plenary on the Conference of Disarmament. On 30 April, Secretary-General Ambassador Luiz Filipe de Macedo Soares delivered the OPANAL statement to the 2015 NPT Review Conference. On 15 June, OPANAL  delivered a statement about the results of the 2015 NPT Review Conference. OPANAL reaffirmed its commitment to nuclear disarmament and its contribution, and expressed regret that the Conference did not reach consensus on a final document.

On 26 September, OPANAL issued a declaration for the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. They “expressed [their] deep dismay” at the remaining nuclear weapons in existence, and urged the nuclear-weapons states to “eliminate the role of nuclear weapons in their security and defense doctrines” and to comply with their obligations to disarm.

2014

On 11 February, Brazilian Ambassador Luiz Filipe de Macedo Soares assumed the position of Secretary General of OPANAL. He was elected for the 2014-2018 term, replacing Costa Rican Amb. Gioconda Ubeda. De Macedo Soares was the permanent representative from Brazil to the Conference on Disarmament from 2008 to 2010.

On 26 June, OPANAL member states released a statement commending the signature of the Protocol to the Treaty of the Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia by the Nuclear Weapon States. On 26 September, OPANAL issued a declaration in conjunction with the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, referencing the humanitarian consequences of intentional or accidental nuclear detonation.

During the 58th General Conference of the IAEA (22-26 September), Minister José Rosenberg, on behalf of Secretary-General of OPANAL, delivered a statement, talking the Control System of the Treaty of Tlatelolco and the cooperation between the IAEA and OPANAL.

2013

On 7 February, 33 heads of State Parties to the Tlatelolco Treaty pushed for disarmament and pledged to continue their commitment to a nuclear weapons-free world at the High Level Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on Nuclear Disarmament on 26 September 2013 in New York. This was welcomed by the Mayors for Peace 2020 vision campaign.

On 26 August, the 23rd Session of the OPANAL conference was held in Buenos Aires, Agentina. During the session, the President of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, urged foreign minister David Cameron to cease the “militarization” of the nuclear-weapon-free zone in the South Atlantic. These requests stem from a long history of accusation from Argentina towards the United Kingdom of deploying nuclear-capable submarines in the Malvinas Islands.Earlier that week, Alicia Castro (Argentine Ambassador  to the UK), stated that Argentina is committed to settling the Malvinas dispute with diplomacy.

2012

On 14 February, the Treaty of Tlatelolco had its 45th Anniversary. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hailed the pact as an example of how regional initiatives can advance global norms on nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and the peaceful use of atomic energy.

On 27 April, Ambassador Alfredo Labbe addressed the First Preparatory Meeting for the Third Conference of States Parties and Signatories to the Treaty Establishing Nuclear Weapon-Free Zones and Mongolia, on behalf of OPANAL Secretary-General Gioconda Ubeda, and stressed the need for joint leadership among the five NWFZs in order to strengthen coordination and cooperation among the NWFZs.

On 3 May, Secretary-General Gioconda Ubeda addressed the NPT PrepCom and expressed OPANAL’s hope that the five NWS would soon sign or ratify the Additional Protocols of all NWFZ treaties. Additionally, he offered to share the experience of the NWFZ in Latin America and the Caribbean at the 2012 Conference on the Establishment of a NWFZ in the Middle East. He also noted that 31 of the 33 member states of OPANAL have ratified the CTBT, of which Guatemala is the most recent.

2011

On 16 June in Geneva, the Secretary General of OPANAL, Gioconda Ubeda, spoke at the first plenary meeting of the Conference on Disarmament. Ubeda addressed the importance of strengthening multilateral dialogue among nations, essential for establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones (NWFZ) around the world.  In addition, she recognized that 114 states that make up the five nuclear weapons free zones have much to contribute to the global community but still face a large task of helping eliminate the threat presented by nuclear weapons.

2010

On 23 February, the OPANAL General Secretariat prepared a memorandum for the 2010 NPT Review Conference describing developments that have taken place since the 2005 Review Conference. It highlighted how the “universality of the Treat of Tlatelolco” was achieved and how two Additional Protocol measures were adopted.

On 23 April the Council passed Resolution C/Res.54, which noted its satisfaction with the 8 April signing of New START between Russia and the U.S. It expressed its hope of the treaty’s ratification “as soon as possible”. It also called to the “nuclear-weapon states to implement the thirteen steps to achieve the objective of nuclear disarmament, as agreed to by the States parties in the 2000 [NPT] Review Conference.”

On 18 November OPANAL held the XX Special Session of the General Conference. At the conference, several issues were discussed, including:

  • The “eventual amendment of Article 18” of the Treaty of Tlatelolco, which currently provides the 33 member states rights to peacefully test nuclear devices;
  • Member state compliance to Articles 14 and 24 of the treaty;
  • Additional Protocol I and II of the treaty, which “guarantees the denuclearized status of Latin America and the Caribbean by the acknowledged nuclear powers”;
  • OPANAL’s potential role in the “Pacific use of nuclear energy”;
  • A draft resolution proposed by Costa Rica regarding a Convention for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, which would delegate an international entity the responsibility of dismantling nuclear weapons.

Also, the General Conference passed several Resolutions (mostly centered on budgetary, individual recognition and administrative issues), including Resolution CG/Res.528, which called for an enhancement of cooperation between OPANAL offices in New York and Geneva, as well as coordinating work by “diverse entities in the Agency and ad-hoc groups” in Latin America and the Caribbean. Although it did not set a date or concrete measures to bring about the cooperation, the Conference hopes to “ensure for 2011” that work will be more coordinated in some fashion. 

2009

On 17 April, the Council passed Resolution C/Res. 47, which notes with satisfaction the creation of a Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zone in Central Asia and promotes cooperation with the new NWFZ in order to fulfill common objectives set forth by the Treaty of Tlatelolco and the Treaty of Semipalatinsk. 

From 27-28 April, a Meeting of Focal Points of Nuclear Weapon Free Zones and Mongolia was held in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Both the importance of universalizing the NPT and the necessity for entry into force of the CTBT were reiterated, Preparations for the 2010 NPT Review Conference, and the Third PrepCom were also discussed. States parties to the Treaty of Tlatelolco submitted a working paper to the PrepCom.

On 2 June, the Council passed Resolution C/Res. 50 to condemn the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) nuclear test on 25 May.  The resolution reaffirms the Council’s disapproval of all nuclear testing and urges the DPRK to consider reincorporation to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and adopt a nuclear testing moratorium.  The Council also urges the DPRK to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), and return to the Six Party Talk’s process.

On 20 August, the Council adopted Resolution C/Res.52 expressing satisfaction for the entry of force of the “Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Africa,” and reaffirming their commitment to the common objectives of promoting NWFZs, strengthening the NPT regime and achieving nuclear disarmament.

On 10 September, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Ambassador Sergio Duarte addressed the OPANAL Council. He discussed the upcoming summit meeting of the UN Security Council on the subject of nuclear disarmament and the challenge of promoting the creation of new regional nuclear-weapon-free zones, especially in the Middle East. In particular he stressed the importance of continued efforts at national and regional levels in pursuit of multilateral goals.

On 26 November, the XXI Regular Session of the General Conference of OPANAL met in Mexico City. The President of the meeting was Mr. Salvador Beltrán del Río, the Under Secretary for Latin America and the Caribbean from the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Twenty-two Member States participated in the Conference. H.E. Madame Gioconda Úbeda Rivera was elected by acclamation (CG/Res.524) as Secretary General from 2010 to 2013. Ambassador Úbeda replaces Ambassador Perla Carvalho, whose mandate as the Deputy Secretary General of OPANAL ended on 30 November.

The Conference passed a number of resolutions. Although most were administrative, six concerned substantive issues. These included Strengthening OPANAL (CG/Res.513); 2nd Conference of States Parties and Signatories of Treaties Establishing Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones and Mongolia (CG/Res.514); Interpretative Declarations of the Nuclear Powers to Protocols I and II of the Treaty of Tlatelolco (CG/Res.515); 2010 Review Conference of the NPT (CG/Res.516); Coordination with Other Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones (CG/Res.517); and Education for Peace, Disarmament and Non-proliferation (CG/Res.518). The General Council elected Costa Rica and Guatemala to replace Argentina and Mexico as Members of the Council for the 2010-2013 term. (CG/Res.519)

2008

On 14 February, OPANAL organized a seminar on the “Treaty of Tlatelolco” for the occasion of the 41st anniversary of the opening for signature of the Treaty of Tlatelolco.

On 14 August, an Extraordinary Session of the General Conference was held in Mexico City, Mexico.  United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressed the Conference, noting the successes of regional approaches to disarmament and nonproliferation. He called on States to prioritize bringing the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty into force and negotiating a fissile material treaty in the Conference on Disarmament.

The XIX Special Session of the General Conference convened on 19 November in Mexico City to consider budgetary and financial issues.

2007

On 14 February, OPANAL held an academic seminar in honor of the 40th anniversary of the opening for signature of the Treaty of Tlatelolco.

On 22 November, the 20th Regular Session of the General Conference was held in Mexico City, Mexico.  The resolutions and documents were all administrative in nature. The Council passed Resolution CG/Res.496 appointing a deputy secretary-general, H.E. Madame Perla Carvalho, to serve from 1 January 2008 to 30 June 2009, with the possibility of extending the mandate until the XXI Regular General Conference is held in November 2009.

2006

On 11 September, the Council passed Resolution C/Res. 41 applauding the establishment of a Central Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone.

On 23 November, the 18th Special Session of the General Conference was held in Tlatelolco, Mexico.  The resolutions and documents were all administrative in nature.

2005

On 26-28 April, the Conference of States Parties and Signatories of Treaties that establish Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones was held in Tlatelolco, Mexico. The conference adopted a declaration reaffirming that nuclear weapons constitute a threat to all humanity, urging nuclear-weapons states to adopt negative security assurances, and stressing the importance of the right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

On 7-8 November, the 19th Regular Session of the General Conference was held in Santiago, Chile. The conference re-elected Secretary-General Vargas Carreño of Chile to serve a second term from 1 January 2006-30 June 2009.  States Parties adopted the Santiago de Chile Declaration, which expressed support of measures that contribute to disarmament and frustration with the lack of further progress.  Specifically, the resolution called for a strengthened OPANAL and more cooperation amongst the NWFZ states, reaffirmed the right of all States to nuclear energy, and called upon nuclear weapon states to provide negative security assurances, move forward on disarmament issues, and withdraw any reservations about the Tlatelolco Treaty.

On 8 November, the General Conference elected Argentina and Mexico to replace Chile and Ecuador as council members. Argentina and Mexico will serve on the council from 1 January 2006 to 30 December 2009.

2004

On 26 April to 7 May OPANAL representatives attended the open sessions of the Preparatory Committee for the 2005 Review Conference of the Parties to the NPT held in New York.

On 23 November, the 17th Special Session of the General Conference was held in Tlatelolco, Mexico. The conference adopted CG/E/Res.460 in support of the Conference of States Parties and Signatories of Treaties that establish Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones, to be held in Tlatelolco, Mexico, in 2005. The conference also adopted a CG/E/Res.461, reiterating its conviction that the use of nuclear weapons in self-defense against a conventional attack is incompatible with international law.

2003

On 28 April to 9 May, an OPANAL representative attended the second session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2005 Review Conference of the Parties to the (NPT).

On 21 January, 11 March, 8 May, and 28 August, the Council, currently composed of representatives of Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, and Peru, met at OPANAL Headquarters in Mexico City for four ordinary sessions to review the functioning of the control system of the Treaty of Tlatelolco.

On 5-6 November, the 18th Regular Session of the General Conference was held in Havana, Cuba. OPANAL members adopted the Havana Declaration, in which they recognized the threat posed by nuclear weapons, reaffirmed their commitment to nuclear disarmament, emphasized the value of multilateralism, and expressed concern that new security approaches that emphasize nuclear weapons could lead to the development and support of new types of nuclear capabilities. Within this context, delegates noted their satisfaction that, with Cuba’s ratification of the Treaty of Tlatelolco, it had entered into full force. Furthermore, they reiterated their support for nuclear-weapon-free zones, pledging to promote the convening of a Conference of States Parties and signatories to treaties establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones. They also planned to request a review of declarations formulated by nuclear States Parties to Protocols I and II of the Treaty of Tlatelolco, to strengthen relevant national controls and verification systems, and to continue working with various international agencies regarding the safe transport of radioactive wastes that affect the treaty’s zone of application.

Delegates also passed several resolutions relating to nonproliferation and disarmament during the 18th Regular Session. In a resolution on the “Status of the Treaty and its Additional Protocols,” they again expressed satisfaction regarding Cuba’s ratification of the Treaty of Tlatelolco, and urged all States Parties which had not yet done so to sign or ratify the amendments to the treaty. In another resolution, delegates encouraged all States parties to ratify the Additional Protocol to their respective International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards agreements. In Resolution 443 on the “Use of Nuclear Energy for Peaceful Purposes,” General Conference members urged States Parties to accurately report their official positions regarding the issue to the secretary-general. Resolution 445 asked OPANAL members to encourage education regarding disarmament and nuclear nonproliferation issues and to implement United Nations’ recommendations on the subject. Finally, in Resolution 449, members reiterated the importance of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty’s entry into force and called on states to refrain from taking actions contrary to its objectives.

2002

On 18 September, a Cooperation Agreement was signed between OPANAL and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) in Vienna.

In November, Cuba ratified the Treaty of Tlatelolco, reaffirming its political will to contribute to the peace and security of the region. The ratification made Cuba a member of OPANAL.

On 25 November, the 16th Special session of the General Conference of OPANAL was held in Mexico City. The Member States agreed to invite nuclear weapon states, which have reservations about Protocol I and II of the Treaty of Tlatelolco, to review their declarations. The Member States hope that these reservations may be removed or modified with the purpose of strengthening the integrity of the denuclearization objective of the treaty. The Member States also approved the budget presented by the secretary-general for Fiscal Year 2002, which sets a maximum of US $300,000.

2001

On 15 March, the 15th Special Session of the General Conference of OPANAL was held in Mexico City. Vargas Carreño of Chile was unanimously elected as secretary-general for the period from 1 June to 31 December 2001 to complete the term of Ambassador Enrique Román-Morey, who was appointed as the deputy secretary-general of the Conference on Disarmament. Mr. Carrreño’s term was extended to 31 December 2005.

On 29-30 November, at its 17th regular session in Panama City, Panama, the General Conference adopted Resolution CG/Res.418, entitled “The strengthening of OPANAL,” in which it called on the secretary general to prepare a proposal for holding an international conference of the parties to nuclear-weapon-free-zones (NWFZ), and to increase the exchange of information and experience with other NWFZ. Other resolutions included calls for further collaboration with the IAEA, and for cooperation among Member States against the illicit trafficking in nuclear materials.

1999

On 30 November and 1 December, the 16th regular session of the General Conference of OPANAL met in Lima, Peru. The General Conference adopted the “Lima Appeal” for the complete and immediate prohibition of the use and manufacture of nuclear weapons and the prevention of their proliferation. OPANAL’s secretary-general was requested to arrange for the distribution of the Lima Appeal as an official document of the Millennium Assembly of the UN.

Point of Contact

Secretary-General: H.E. Madame Gioconda Úbeda Rivera
Schiller 326 - 5º piso

Col. Chapultepec Morales
Mexico D.F. 11570, Mexico
Phone: (52-55) 5255-2914, 5255-4198 y 5545-9251
Fax: (52-55) 5255-3748
Website: www.opanal.org

About

OPANAL is an inter-governmental organization that ensures that the obligations of the Treaty of Tlatelolco are met, by organizing conferences and consultations and overseeing adherence to the Control System.

This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents. Copyright 2017.