Proclamation of Latin America and Caribbean as a zone of peace
The second Summit of the Latin America and Caribbean Economic Community, known by its Spanish acronym CELAC, is focused on regional integration, the purpose behind its creation in 2011. And on its last morning, the heads of state or government signed a “zone of peace” accord, vowing to reject the use of arms and behave as respectful neighbors in conflict resolution.
Further, the joint declaration, read by Cuban President and outgoing CELAC chief Raul Castro, says the nations of the hemisphere are committed to nonintervention in each other’s internal affairs, to cultivate cooperation and friendship and to fully respect “the inalienable right of every state to choose its political, economic, social and cultural system as an essential condition to guarantee peaceful co-existence among nations.”
In his speech to the gathering, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos praised this declaration adding: “And speaking of peace, I want to thank in a very special way the support of all of you to the peace process that we have been moving forward in Colombia. (And) to thank Cuba because Cuba is helping us and in what a manner, serving as host for this process.”
Santos added: “We have advanced as never before in the negotiations with the FARC [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia], already finishing two of the five points we have agreed to. There remains a difficult path to follow but if you ask me today if I am more optimistic than I was when we spoke about this topic in the last CELAC summit a year ago, I would say yes, I am more optimistic.”
In their speeches, many of the regional leaders spoke of the need to deal with economic problems and eradicate inequalities. Some of the more left-leaning figures railed against “savage capitalism” and imperialism, and others voiced support for Argentina’s claim over the British-controlled Falkland Islands. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro urged Puerto Rico’s independence from the United States.
The Washington-based Council on Foreign Relation’s Julia Sweig, who visited Cuba two weeks ago as the island prepared for the international event, believes it could represent a turning point.
“I can’t imagine a return to the old pattern of Washington dominating the Inter-American system,” Sweig said. “I’d like to imagine that the Obama administration has the imagination and creativity and confidence to adjust to the new Latin America of foreign policy independence and vastly less deference to Washington. The White House has a choice: throw up its hands and opt for a focus on its bilateral relations with individual countries in the region, or try to accommodate the region’s new multilateralism — one that emphatically includes Cuba.”
In an article written for a Brazilian newspaper, Sweig highlighted the role President Dilma Rousseff is playing in this new scenario. On Monday, Rousseff and Cuban President Raul Castro inaugurated a container terminal in a new deep water port some 45 miles west of Havana. Built at a cost of over $950 million, the BNDS-backed Odebrecht investment, it represents just one aspect of the part Brazilian capital is playing in Cuba, Sweig said. She notes investments in sugar cane, soy, corn, tobacco and pharmaceuticals.
It’s an example of the kind of economic cooperation that CELAC hopes to encourage throughout the region but it doesn’t necessarily exclude working with the United States.
Sweig says that during her Council on Foreign Relations-organized visit to the island, she “heard a clear and explicitly stated interest in cooperation with the United States”, between governments, business and society.
Among the distinguished observers at the summit are Organization of American States chief Jose Miguel Insulza and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Insulza is the first OAS official to visit Cuba since 1962, when Cuba was kicked out of the organization. He was invited by President Castro to attend as a courtesy.
On Tuesday Ban, who met with former Cuban President Fidel Castro earlier, told the press covering CELAC that human rights was among the topics he raised with them.
“The issue of human rights is one that I always discuss with world leaders when I meet them. During my meetings with the leadership of the Cuban government, I discussed this matter. As you know, I emphasized the importance of playing a greater role in enhancing human rights, and providing spaces for people’s right to peaceful assembly and association, and cases of arbitrary arrests that occur in Cuba,” he said.
At the end of the summit, Cuba will turn over the rotating CELAC presidency to Costa Rica.
Proclamation of Latin America and Caribbean as a zone of peace (Original signed by the Heads of State and Governmenent of the Community of Latin American and Caribbeans States)
The Heads of State and Government of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) gathered in Havana, Cuba on January 28 and 29, 2014 at the Second Summit, on behalf of their peoples and faithfully interpreting their hopes and aspirations,
Reaffirming the commitment of member countries with the Purposes and Principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter and International Law, and aware of the fact that prosperity and stability in the region contribute to international peace and security,
Mindful that peace is a supreme asset and a legitimate aspiration of all peoples and that preserving peace is a substantial element of Latin America and Caribbean integration and a principle and common value of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC),
Reaffirming that integration consolidates the vision of a fair International order based on the right to peace and a culture of peace, which excludes the use of force and non-legitimate means of defense, such as weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons in particular,
Highlighting the relevance of the Tlatelolco Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean establishing the first nuclear weapon free zone in a densely populated area, this being a contribution to peace and to regional and international security,
Reiterating the urgent need of General and Complete Nuclear Disarmament, as well as the commitment with the Strategic Agenda of the Organization for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL), adopted by the 33 Member States of the Organization in the General Conference held in Buenos Aires in August, 2013.
Recalling the principles of peace, democracy, development and freedom underlying the actions of countries members of SICA,
Recalling the decision of UNASUR Heads of State of consolidating South America as a Zone of Peace and Cooperation,
Recalling the establishment, in 1986, of the Zone of Peace and Cooperation of the South Atlantic,
Recalling also our commitment, agreed in the Declaration of the Summit of Unity of Latin America and the Caribbean, on 23 February 2010, to promote the implementation of our own mechanisms for the for peaceful conflict resolution,
Reiterating our commitment to consolidate Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, in which differences between nations are peacefully settled through dialogue and negotiations or other means, fully consistent with International Law,
Cognizant also of the catastrophic global and long-term humanitarian impact of the use of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, and the ongoing discussions on this issue,
1. Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace based on respect for the principles and rules of International Law, including the international instruments to which Member States are a party to, the Principles and Purposes of the United Nations Charter;
2. Our permanent commitment to solve disputes through peaceful means with the aim of uprooting forever threat or use of force in our region;
3. The commitment of the States of the region with their strict obligation not to intervene, directly or indirectly, in the internal affairs of any other State and observe the principles of national sovereignty, equal rights and self-determination of peoples;
4. The commitment of the peoples of Latin American and Caribbean to foster cooperation and friendly relations among themselves and with other nations irrespective of differences in their political, economic, and social systems or development levels; to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbors;
5. The commitment of the Latin American and Caribbean States to fully respect for the inalienable right of every State to choose its political, economic, social, and cultural system, as an essential conditions to ensure peaceful coexistence among nations;
6. The promotion in the region of a culture of peace based, inter alia, on the principles of the United Nations Declaration on a Culture of Peace;
7. The commitment of the States in the region to guide themselves by this Declaration in their International behavior;
8. The commitment of the States of the region to continue promoting nuclear disarmament as a priority objective and to contribute with general and complete disarmament, to foster the strengthening of confidence among nations;
We urge all Member States of the International Community to fully respect this Declaration in their relations with CELAC Member States.
In witness of the undersigned having duly signed this Proclamation in Havana, on the 29th day of the month of January of 2014, in a copy written in the Spanish, English, French and Portuguese languages.