Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC)
Established: 3 December 2011.
Membership: 33 member states: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Dominica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Co-operative Republic of Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Santa Lucia, Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela.
Background: The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) is a regional bloc of 33 Latin American and Caribbean states. It was formed at the Unity Summit, which consisted of the 21st Summit of the Rio Group and the 2nd Latin American and Caribbean Summit on Integration and Development (CALC), in the Mayan Riviera, Mexico on 23 February 2010. The organization aims to unite all of the Latin American and Caribbean states in order to strengthen the political, social and cultural integration of the region, improve its quality of life, stimulate its economic growth, and advance the well-being of all of its people. CELAC is a successor of the Rio Group and CALC.
Framework: The official bodies of the organization are: Summit of Heads of State and Government, Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Pro-Tempore Presidency, Specialized Meetings, and the Troika.
Summits of Heads of State and Government meet in the country holding the Pro Tempore Presidency. This body is responsible for designating the next state to serve as Pro Tempore Presidency and to host the following meeting; adopting procedures and strategies to guide the relations with countries outside of CELAC and other international and regional organizations; approving modifications of procedures; establishing action plans; and promoting citizens’ participation in the organization.
The Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs convenes twice a year or more frequently if necessary. Its duties include promoting political dialogue, monitoring the process of unity and integration of the region, adopting resolutions and statements to enforce the decisions of the Summit of Heads of State and Government, synchronizing the joint position of member states, evaluating and observing the enforcement of action plans, approving projects and programs that are to be presented to the Summit of Heads of State and Government, and forming and assigning tasks to working groups.
The Pro Tempore Presidency is held for a period of one year. However, during the 2013 Summit, the Heads of State and Government will decide whether to change the term duration. The Presidency’s main responsibilities, are to organize and chair the Summit of Heads of State and Government and the meetings of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and National Coordinators; enforce the decisions of the Summits and the meetings; monitor agreements reached at the meetings; submit for consideration the Biennial Work Programme of CELAC activities; formulate working papers; issue minutes; organize activities; create and present the Annual Reports; and carry on the Community legacy, as well as that of the Rio Group and CALC.
The Meeting of National Coordinators takes place in the country holding the Pro Tempore Presidency, unless states agree otherwise. Meetings coordinate dialogue and political consensus at the national level; facilitate regional integration; monitor cooperation on projects within the organization; organize, coordinate and observe Working Groups; function as the preparatory body for the meetings of Ministers of Foreign Affairs; and report the finding of Working Groups to the Ministers.
National Coordinators serve as a link between the Member States and the Pro Tempore Secretariat by coordinating and directly monitoring topics under discussion, and meet twice a year before the Meeting of Foreign Ministers. Each country is assigned one National Coordinator.
Specialized Meetings are intended to address issues that help promote unity within CELAC, as well as deal with integration and regional cooperation on matters vital to the organization. The Pro Tempore Presidency convenes the meetings and the results are reported to the National Coordinators Meeting that presents them at the meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs.
The Troika provides assistance to the Pro Tempore Presidency and is made up of the State currently holding the Presidency, by the former State in this position, and by the State assuming the title.
The Organization’s Position on Terrorism:
At the time of the inauguration of CELAC, on 3 December 2011, the Heads of State and Government of Latin America and the Caribbean, emphasized their disapproval of all acts of terrorism and reiterated their pledge to fight terrorism in adherence to International Law, International Rules of Human Rights Protection, and International Humanitarian Law. The Heads of State and Government promised to strengthen their national legislations and cooperate with their international partners to prevent acts of terrorism. In addition, they pledged to take necessary actions to prevent, penalize and eliminate terrorism financing and deny safe haven to those that participate in such activities.
The Heads of State and Government stressed their commitment to the United Nations Global Strategy Against Terrorism. They condemned the person responsible for the terrorist attack in October 1976 against the aircraft of Cubana de Avicion, and called for this person to be brought to justice.
The Heads of State and Government encouraged all States to become parties to all agreements and protocols regarding terrorism.
They expressed their desire to create a mechanism within the framework of the United Nations that will provide assistance to the victims of terrorist acts.
The Organization’s Position on Elimination of Nuclear Weapons:
At the time of inauguration of CELAC, on 3 December 2011, the Heads of State and Government of Latin America and the Caribbean voiced their concern regarding the threat presented to humankind by the existence of nuclear weapons and the threat or possibility of their use. They reiterated the urgency of complete and verifiable nuclear disarmament, as well as nuclear nonproliferation.
The Heads of State and Government expressed their pride in being a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (NWFZ), by means of the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco). In this regard, they called for the Nuclear Weapon States to withdraw all reservations to the Protocols of the Treaty.
The Heads of State and Government asked for the complete and balanced fulfillment of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). They confirmed their pledge to apply comprehensive IAEA safeguards, and encouraged all States to do the same.
They advised all Nuclear Weapon States to accelerate their process of nuclear disarmament. Equally, they recommended that the States that have not ratified and/or signed the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) expedite this process so that the Treaty can be enforced. In addition, the Heads of State and Government called for the start of the negotiations of a treaty to prohibit the Production of Fissile Material.
They reiterated the significance of continuing to draft proposals in order to reach total elimination of nuclear weapons.
The Heads of State and Government expressed their desire to establish a common position on issues related to nuclear nonproliferation, disarmament and the peaceful use of nuclear energy, so that it may be presented at the 2015 NPT Review Conference, as well as at the 2012, 2013 and 2014 Preparatory Committee meetings.
They expressed their commitment to convening an international conference, aiming to establish a program that will lead toward complete elimination of nuclear weapons within specified timeframe. This program will prohibit the development, production, attainment, testing, stockpiling, transfer, use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, as well as require their complete destruction.
The Head of State and Government expressed their gratitude to the Brazilian-Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials (ABACC) for their contribution in the field of nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament. They confirmed their satisfaction with the Nuclear Suppliers Group’s (NSG’s) decision to recognize the Quadripartite Agreement as an alternative to Additional Protocols.
2015: On 29 January, the 2015 CELAC conference concluded in San Jose, Costa Rica. Major topics included the U.S. embargo against Cuba and the inclusion of Puerto Rico in next year’s summit. CELAC also issued the Declaration of Belén, which reaffirmed their commitment to complete nuclear disarmament and to the Treaty of Tlatelolco and OPANAL.
On 27 April, Ambassador Xavier Lasso Mendoza of Ecuador delivered a statement to the 2015 NPT Review Conference on behalf of CELAC, reaffirming CELAC’s position on nuclear disarmament and calling for a “legally binding instrument for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons.”
On 30 September, Ecuador delivered a statement on behalf of CELAC at the special meeting of the UNGA to commemorate the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. They welcomed the UN’s decision to hold a High Level Conference “no later than 2018 to identify measures and actions to eliminate nuclear weapons in the shortest possible term.”
On 12 October, Ecuador issued a statement on behalf of CELAC at the UN General Assembly. They urged for “multilateral, diplomatic” negotiations to create a new “instrument” to completely eliminate nuclear weapons. They also praised the Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zones as an excellent method to increase security and peace in the world.
2014: On 28 January, the summit for CELAC was held in Havana, Cuba. Many speculated that the summit proceedings indicated that the region is distancing itself from the United States. Following the summit, all 33 nations from CELAC adopted a landmark agreement making the region a “zone of peace”. The agreement highlights the Tlatelolco Treaty and the unity of the region.
2013: On 28 January, the second summit for CELAC was held in Santiago, Chile where the presidency was passed from Chile’s Sebastian Pinera to Cuba’s Raul Castro. The summit concluded with a joint declaration and plan of action that included sustainable development, integration and coordination goals. The next annual summit will be held in Havana.
The meeting was preceded by CELAC’s first summit with the EU. The summit focused on collaboration in trade and mutual investment. The EU later expressed that CELAC will be the EU’s “counter-part for the bi-regional partnership process.”
On 7 February 2013, heads of State of CELAC (also party 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.
On 1 April, the Cuban delegation representing CELAC made a statement at the 2013 session of the UN Disarmament Commission. It reaffirmed CELAC’s commitment to disarmament and encouraged the creation and preservation of Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones.
On 10 September, at a meeting held in Havana, Cuba, CELAC called for an immediate solution to the crisis in Syria. CELAC condemned the use of chemical weapons while emphasizing that any action taken in Syria must be undertaken by the UN Security Council in accordance with the UN Charter.2012: On 2 April, Octavio Errazuriz, representative of Chile, addressed the UN Disarmament Commission on behalf of CELAC, announcing that Latin America had become the first densely-populated nuclear-weapon-free zone and urging the nuclear-weapon States to withdraw all reservations to the Treaty of Tlatelolco. In addition, CELAC reaffirmed the rights of states to develop peaceful uses of nuclear energy and called upon all Annex II states that had not yet ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) to do so.
2011: On 3 December, leaders of 33 Latin American and Caribbean states met in Caracas to inaugurate a new regional bloc, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) .The new alliance greatly resembles the Organization of American States (OAS), with the absence of the United States and Canada. While the host of the summit, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, is greatly critical of the OAS and the dominance of the United States within the (OAS), other leaders of CELAC believe that the new bloc should not replace the OAS. They instead view CELAC as a forum for regional discussions and cooperation. The attendants of the summit addressed their concerns related to the economic crises, drug trafficking, and climate change. In addition, they agreed to oppose the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba.
The members approved the Plan of Action, known as the Caracas Declaration, covering various topics similar to those of OAS. However, the leaders were unable to reach a consensus on a decision-making process within the organization. At present, it is consensus-based. The president of Chile, Sebastian Pinera, took the chair of a rotating presidency.
CELAC is a regional bloc that aims to unite, strengthen, and promote the interests of Latin American and Caribbean states. It is a successor of the Rio Group and the 2nd Latin American and Caribbean Summit on Integration and Development (CALC).