Union of South American Nations [UNASUR]



The Union of South American Nations (Dutch: Unie van Zuid-Amerikaanse Naties, Portuguese: União de Nações Sul-Americanas, Spanish: Unión de Naciones Suramericanas, and abbreviated as UNASUR and UNASUL) is a supranational and intergovernmental union that will unite two existing customs unions - Mercosur and the Andean Community - as part of a continuing process of South American integration. It is modelled on the European Union.

The UNASUR Constitutive Treaty was signed on May 23, 2008, at the Third Summit of Heads of State, held in Brasília, Brazil. [2] According to the Constitutive Treaty, the Union's headquarters will be located in Quito, Ecuador. The South American Parliament will be located in Cochabamba, Bolivia, while its bank, the Bank of the South (Dutch: Bank van het Zuiden, Portuguese: Banco do Sul, Spanish: Banco del Sur), will be located in Bogota, Colombia.[3] The Union's former designation, the South American Community of Nations (Dutch: Zuid-Amerikaanse Statengemeenschap, Portuguese: Comunidade Sul-Americana de Nações, and Spanish: Comunidad de Naciones Sudamericanas), abbreviated as CSN, was dropped at the First South American Energy Summit on April 16, 2007.[4]



At the Third South American Summit on 8 December 2004, presidents or representatives from twelve South American nations signed the Cuzco Declaration, a two-page statement of intent announcing the foundation of the South American Community. Panama attended the signing ceremony as an observer.

The leaders announced their intention to model the new community after the European Union including a common currency, parliament, and passport. According to Allan Wagner Tizón, former Secretary General of the Andean Community, a complete union like that of the EU should be possible by 2019.

The mechanics of the new entity came out of the First South American Community of Nations Heads of State Summit, which was held in Brasília on 29 September-30 September 2005. An important operating condition of UNASUR is that no new institutions will be created in the first phase, so as not to increase bureaucracy, and the community will use the existing institutions belonging to the previous trade blocs.



Simón Bolívar, directly responsible for the independence of Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, and parts of Peru and Bolivia in the early years of the 19th century, and honored with statues in the capital cities of practically every Latin American country, had the goal of creating a federation of nations to ensure prosperity and security after independence. Bolívar never achieved this goal, and died an unpopular figure because of his heavy-handed attempts to establish strong central governments in the nations he led to independence. Throughout the years, many in South America have called for social, political, and economic union. UNASUR is intended to be a concrete step towards the achievement of such union.



Michelle Bachelet, President pro tempore.

At the moment, the provisional structure of the UNASUR is as follows:

0. The presidents of each member nation will have an annual meeting, which will be the superior political mandate. The first meeting was in Brasília (Brazil) on September 29 and September 30, 2005. The second meeting was in Cochabamba (Bolivia) on December 8 and December 9, 2006. The third meeting was held in Brasília on May 23, 2008.
0. The ministers of foreign affairs of each country will meet once every six months. They will formulate concrete proposals of action and of executive decision. The President of the Mercosur's permanent representatives committee and the director of the Mercosur's department, the Andean Community's general secretary, ALADI's general secretary and the permanent secretaries of any institution for regional cooperation and integration, Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization among others, will also be present at these meetings.
0. A Secretary General would be elected, to establish a permanent secretariat in Quito, Ecuador.
0. Sectorial Ministers' meeting will be called upon by the presidents. The meetings will be developed according to Mercosur's and CAN's mechanisms.
0. The temporary Presidency will be held for a year and will rotate among the member countries between each CSN meeting. According to Decisions Reached in the Political Dialogue[5] (Dutch: Besluiten Bereikt in de Politieke Dialoog, Portuguese: Decisões Tomadas no Diálogo Político, Spanish: Decisiones Alcanzadas en el Diálogo Político), which was signed during the I South American Energy Summit, a general permanent office will be created and this will be hosted in Quito, Ecuador.
0. On December 9, 2005 a special commission was established in charge of advancing the process of South American Integration (Dutch: Commissie Belast met Impulsing van het Proces van de Zuid-Amerikaanse Integratie, Portuguese: Comissão Estratégica de Reflexão sobre o Processo de Integração Sul-americana, Spanish: La Comisión Estratégica de Reflexión a cargo de formular propuestas con miras a impulsar el proceso de integración sudamericano en todos sus aspectos). It consists of 12 members, whose function is to elaborate proposals that will help the process of integration between the South American nations.
0. Executive Commission, which was created by the II CSN meeting, was transformed in the Political Commission or Delegates Council, according to Decisions Reached in the Political Dialogue[6] (Dutch: Besluiten Bereikt in de Politieke Dialoog, Portuguese: Decisões Tomadas no Diálogo Político, Spanish: Decisiones Alcanzadas en el Diálogo Político).


Current work in progress

President of UNASUR member states during the initial of the treaty on May 23, 2008.

At the present time the union exists only on paper. The signing of the treaty was delayed from March until late May due to a Colombian raid on a FARC camp in Ecuador, and disputes regarding the conflict and broader trade issues continue to pose an obstacle. Michael Shifter of the Washington D.C. Inter-American Dialogue called UNASUR a "pipe dream", while saying that "economic conditions in the region have never been riper for this sort of integration".[7]


Single market

0. One of the initiatives of UNASUR is the creation of a single market, beginning with the elimination of tariffs for non-sensitive products by 2014 and sensitive products by 2019.


Infrastructure cooperation

0. There is an Initiative for Infrastructure Integration of South America (IIRSA) underway, which has received the support of the Inter-American Development Bank and the Andean Development Corporation.
0. UNASUR started plans of integration through infrastructure cooperation with the construction of the Interoceanic Highway, a road that intends to more firmly link the Pacific Coast countries, especially Chile and Peru with Brazil and Argentina by extending highways through the continent, allowing better connections to ports to Bolivia and the inner parts of Argentina, Peru and Brazil. The first corridor, between Peru and Brazil, began construction in September 2005, financed 60% by Brazil and 40% by Peru, is expected to be ready by the end of 2009.
0. The South American Energy Ring (Dutch: Zuid-Amerikaanse energie-Ring, Portuguese: Anel Energético Sul-Americano, Spanish: Anillo Energético Sudamericano) is intended to interconnect Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay with natural gas from several sources, such as the Camisea Gas Project in Peru and Tarija Gas Deposits in Bolivia. Though this proposal has been signed and ratified, economic and political difficulties in Argentina and Bolivia have delayed this initiative, and to date, this agreement remains more like a protocol than an actual project, since Chile and Brazil are already building LNG terminals to import gas from overseas suppliers.


Free movement of people

0. Visits by South American citizens to any South American country (except French Guiana) of up to 90 days require only the presentation of an identity card issued by the respective authority of the travellers' country of origin. On 24 November 2006, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela waived visa requirements for tourism travel between nationals of said countries.[8]


Economic development

Presidents of the seven founding countries (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay, Venezuela and Uruguay) officially launched the South American Bank in Buenos Aires in December 2007. The heads of all the founding countries were at the ceremony, with the exception of President Tabaré Vazquez of Uruguay. The capital will be US$7b, with Venezuela responsible for US$3b and Brazil US$2b. The headquarters will be located in Caracas with offices in Buenos Aires and La Paz.

The Banco do Sul will finance economic development projects to improve local competitiveness and to promote the scientific and technological development of the member countries. Chile and Colombia participated on initial meeting, but they decided not to join the project.

The founding chart affirms that the Bank will promote projects in "stable and equal" manner and priorities will be to reinforce South America integration, to reduce asymmetries, and to promote egalitarian distribution of investments.

The Brazilian Minister Guido Mantega stated that the bank is not similar to the International Monetary Fund; it will be a credit institution similar to the World Bank or the BIRD.


Defense policy

Venezuela and Brazil have put forward a plan for a South American Defense Council which would draft defense policy and serve as a mechanism for regional security. The proposal is currently under discussion by the member states. Colombia has not entered the defense agreement due to the ongoing 2008 Andean diplomatic crisis with Ecuador and Venezuela, and their alleged support for the armed group FARC. However it has accepted reviewing the proposal, and will make a decision in 90 days [9][10]


Participating nations













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