Girish Mahajan (Editor)

Union of South American Nations

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South American

Continental union

Union of South American Nations

Administrative centers
Quito, Ecuador (Secretariat) Cochabamba, Bolivia (Parliament)

Largest cities
São Paulo Lima Bogotá Rio de Janeiro Santiago Caracas Buenos Aires Salvador Brasília Fortaleza

Official languages
Spanish Portuguese English Dutch

12 members Argentina Bolivia Brazil Chile Colombia Ecuador Guyana Paraguay Peru Suriname Uruguay Venezuela 2 observers Mexico Panama

The Union of South American Nations (USAN; Spanish: Unión de Naciones Suramericanas, UNASUR; Portuguese: União de Nações Sul-Americanas, UNASUL; Dutch: Unie van Zuid-Amerikaanse Naties, UZAN) is an intergovernmental regional organization comprising 12 South American countries.


The UNASUR Constitutive Treaty was signed on 23 May 2008, at the Third Summit of Heads of State, held in Brasília, Brazil. According to the Constitutive Treaty, the Union's headquarters will be located in Quito, Ecuador. On 1 December 2010, Uruguay became the ninth state to ratify the UNASUR treaty, thus giving the union full legality. As the Constitutive Treaty entered into force on 11 March 2011, UNASUR became a legal entity during a meeting of Foreign Ministers in Mitad del Mundo, Ecuador, where they had laid the foundation stone for the Secretariat Headquarters. The South American Parliament will be located in Cochabamba, Bolivia, while the headquarters of its bank, the Bank of the South are located in Caracas, Venezuela.

On 4 May 2010, at a heads of state summit held in Campana, 75 km (47 mi) north of Buenos Aires, former Argentine President Néstor Kirchner was unanimously elected the first Secretary General of UNASUR for a two-year term.


At the Third South American Summit on 8 December 2004, presidents or representatives from 12 South American nations signed the Cusco Declaration, a two-page statement of intent announcing the foundation of the South American Community. Panama and Mexico attended the signing ceremony as observers.

The group 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 29–30 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.


Between the 15th and 19th centuries, the Spanish and Portuguese colonization brought about the establishment and development of colonial empires in the Americas that integrated politically, economically and culturally vast extensions of the continent each with their respective metropolis.

Since the Spanish American wars of independence a trend towards the political integration of the newly born republics of Hispanic America became strong in the thinking of several independence leaders, influenced in turn by the Spanish Enlightenment and the French and American revolutions. A notable early exponent of this trend was Francisco de Miranda, who envisioned a federated republic encompassing all of Hispanic America, which he called "Colombia".

The independence war efforts saw the concurrence of integrated armies composed by Spanish Americans of diverse regions on both sides of the conflict (v.g. Patriots and Royalists), and fighting all over the territories of many future nations. For example, the Army of the Andes which was gathered in the United Provinces of the River Plate fought in Chile, Peru and Ecuador, and later integrated with Simón Bolívar's Army (which itself included troops of future Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador) to further fight in Peru and the Upper Peru

By the 1820s, the main proponent of a federation of the newly born republics was Simón Bolívar, although this idea was shared by many contemporaneous, notably including José de San Martín and Bernardo de Monteagudo, under either republican or constitutional monarchical governments. In 1826, Bolívar summoned a conference to be held in Panama, which was to be known as the "Amphictyonic" Congress of Panama because of the parallelism with the Hellenic Amphictyonic League. The Congress was attended by Gran Colombia (including present-day Colombia, Venezuela, Panama and Ecuador), the Federal Republic of Central America (including present-day Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala), the United Mexican States, and Peru. The ostensible intention was to form a defensive league that could prevent foreign expansionism and foster the interests of the Spanish American republics. The Congress' conclusions, however, were not ratified by the participants, except for Gran Colombia. Soon after, both Gran Colombia and the United Provinces of Central America fell apart and the whole of Hispanic America was balkanized by competing national governments.

By the 1990s, however, Brazil had consolidated as the most powerful country in South America (accounting for half of the regional GDP) and began to promote the notion of a united South America (a new regional framing) where Brasilia would be pivotal.[1] The project did not take hold until the United States' foreign policy priorities turned to other regions in the 2000s.


The complete integration between the Andean Community and the Mercosur nations was formalized during the meeting of South American heads of state that took place on 23 May 2008 in Brasília.

In the 2004 South American Summit, representatives of twelve South American nations signed the Cuzco Declaration, a two-page letter of intent announcing the establishment of the then-named "South American Community of Nations". Panama and Mexico were present as observers. The leaders announced the intention of modeling the new community in the mold of the European Union, including a unified passport, a parliament and, eventually, a single currency. The then Secretary General of the Andean Community Allan Wagner speculated that an advanced union such as the EU should be possible within the next fifteen years.


On 28 December 2005, Chilean former foreign minister Ignacio Walker proposed that the Union's former designation, the South American Community of Nations, abbreviated as CSN, be changed to South American Union; nevertheless, many members stated to him that that proposal had already been rejected to prevent confusion since its acronym of U.S.A. (Spanish: Unión Sudamericana) would be easily confused for the United States of America. In the press, the phrase "United States of South America" was bandied about as an analogy to the United States to reflect the economic and political power that the union would have on the world stage.

The name was finally changed on 16 April 2007 to Union of South American Nations. The new name was jointly agreed by all member states during the first day of meeting at the First South American Energy Summit, held at Isla Margarita, Venezuela.


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

  • A permanent Secretariat is to be established in Quito, Ecuador. The Secretary General, with a two-year mandate, is to be elected on a consensual basis among the Heads of State of the member states. Former Argentine President Néstor Kirchner was designated the first Secretary General on 4 May 2010.
  • The presidents of the member nations will have an annual meeting, which will have the superior political mandate. The first meeting was in Brasília (Brazil) on 29–30 September 2005. The second meeting was in Cochabamba (Bolivia) on 8–9 December 2006. The third meeting was held in Brasília on 23 May 2008.
  • The Presidency Pro Tempore, is exercised for a one-year period on a pro tempore basis by one of the heads of state of each UNASUR Member State, the succession following alphabetical order. The first leader to occupy this position was Chilean President Michelle Bachelet. According to Decisions Reached in the Political Dialogue which was signed during the First South American Energy Summit.
  • 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.
  • Sectorial Ministers' meeting will be called upon by the presidents. The meetings will be developed according to Mercosur's and CAN's mechanisms.
  • On 9 December 2005, a special commission was established in charge of advancing the process of South American Integration. It consists of 12 members, whose function is to elaborate proposals that will help the process of integration between the South American nations.
  • An 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.
  • Organisations

    The organisations of UNASUR are:

  • Council of Heads of State and of Government of Unasur
  • President Pro Tempore of UNASUR
  • Council of Minister of External Relationships of Unasur
  • Council of Delegates of Unasur
  • Secretary General of UNASUR
  • Ministerial Councils

    There are twelve Ministerial Councils of the USAN.

  • Council of South American Defense
  • Electoral Council
  • South American Energy Council
  • South American Council of Health
  • South American Council of Social Development
  • South American Council of Infrastructure and Planning
  • South American Council of fight against the drug traffic
  • South American Council of Economy and Finances
  • South American Council of Education
  • South American Council of Culture
  • South American Council of Science, Technology and Innovation
  • South American Council of Citizen Security, Justice and Coordination of Action against Transnational Organized Crime
  • Other institutions

  • South American Parliament
  • Bank of the South
  • South American Institute of Government in Health
  • Electoral monitors

    UNASUR has also initiated the creation of electoral monitor teams that could replace the monitors from the OAS.

    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 Vázquez 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 Bank of the South will finance economic development projects to improve local competitiveness and to promote the scientific and technological development of the member states. Its founding charter affirms that the bank will promote projects in a "stable and equal" manner and priorities will be oriented towards reinforcing South American integration, reducing asymmetries, and promoting an 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.

    Defense policy

    The South American Defense Council (CDS) was proposed by Venezuela and Brazil to serve as a mechanism for regional security, promoting military co-operation and regional defense. From the beginning Brazil, Argentina and Chile, the countries that took the leadership of the project, made clear that they did not intend to form a NATO-like alliance, but a cooperative security arrangement, enhancing multilateral military cooperation, promoting confidence and security building measures and fostering defense industry exchange. Colombia initially refused to join the defense council due to the strong military ties it has with the United States through the Plan Colombia. However, after reviewing the proposal they decided to join on 20 July 2008.

    Shortly following the signing by Colombia's President, President of Chile Michelle Bachelet appointed a working group to investigate and draft a plan for the new council. Finally, on 10 March 2009, the 12 nation members held, in Chile, the first meeting of the newly formed council.

    In mid-2010, UNASUR played a key role in mediating the 2010 Colombia–Venezuela diplomatic crisis. On 1 September 2010, the agency "UnasurHaití" was created to provide US$100 million in help to Haiti.

    Infrastructure cooperation

  • 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 Development Bank of Latin America.
  • 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 from 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, and was completed in December 2010.
  • The South American Energy Ring 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

    Visits by South American citizens to any South American independent country of up to 90 days only require an identification document issued by the traveler's country. On 24 November 2006, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, and Uruguay abolished visa requirements for tourists between any of those nations.

    Mercosur, along with its Associate members of Bolivia, Chile, Colombia and Ecuador established that their territories together form an "area of free residence with the right to work" to all its citizens, with no additional requirements other than nationality. The Free Movement and Residence Agreement was established in the Brasília summit based in a previous document signed on 6 December 2002.

    Citizens of any Mercosur countries will have a simplified process in temporary residence visa of up to two years in any other member countries, with the requirements of a valid passport, birth certificate, and no criminal record. Temporary residence can become permanent if a licit means of living can be verified.

    At a summit in Guayaquil, Ecuador on 4 December 2014, UNASUR general secretary Ernesto Samper announced, "We have approved the concept of South American citizenship," including the creation of a single passport.

    Participating nation states

  • Members of the Andean Community of Nations (CAN): 1 L
  •  Bolivia M
  •  Colombia
  •  Ecuador
  •  Peru
  • Members of Mercosur: 2 L
  •  Argentina
  •  Brazil
  •  Paraguay
  •  Uruguay
  •  Venezuela S
  • Other members:
  •  Chile 1 2 L
  •  Guyana C
  •  Suriname C
  • S Suspended<be/> 1 These countries are also considered to be associate members of Mercosur.
    2 These countries are also considered to be associate members of the Andean Community.
    C Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member state
    L Latin American Integration Association (ALADI) member state
    M Accessing member to Mercosur

  • Observers:
  •  Mexico L
  •  Panama
  • Participating non-South American territories

    The following territories situated outside South America are part of member states and therefore participate:

  • Easter Island (Rapa Nui), a Chilean territory situated in Oceania.
  • San Andrés y Providencia, a Colombian territory situated in Central America.
  • Isla Aves, a Venezuelan territory situated in the Antilles.
  • Argentine and Chilean Antarctic bases.
  • Non-participating South American states and territories

    The following parts of South America are territories of non-South American states and therefore do not participate:

  • Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao are parts of the Kingdom of the Netherlands near the Venezuelan coastline.
  • French Guiana, which is an overseas department of France and is therefore part of the European Union.
  • The Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, which are overseas territories of the United Kingdom and overseas countries and territories of the European Union; they are also claimed by Argentina.
  • Trinidad and Tobago, although not a member, was invited to join the Union of South American Nations by President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro in July 2013.
  • Summits

  • The July 2014 summit was a joint UNASUR/BRICS summit.
  • There have been other presidential extraordinary meetings, such as:

  • May 2010: Buenos Aires, Argentina. Election of Néstor Kirchner as Secretary General.
  • September 2010: Buenos Aires, Argentina. Discussion of the 2010 Ecuador crisis.
  • December 2010: Mar del Plata, Argentina. Kirchner's successor after his death. (Concurring with the 20th Ibero-American Summit)
  • June 2012: Mendoza, Argentina. Discussion on the Impeachment of Fernando Lugo and suspension of Paraguay. (Concurring with the XLIII Mercosur presidential summit)
  • April 2013: Lima, Peru. Recognition of contested Venezuelan presidential elections results.
  • July 2013: Cochabamba, Bolivia. Discussion on the Evo Morales "kidnapping" incident in Europe (due to European/US suspicions that the Bolivian Presidential aircraft carried US fugitive Edward Snowden.)
  • References

    Union of South American Nations Wikipedia

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