By J C Suresh | IDN-InDepth NewsReport
TORONTO (IDN) – Thirty-three Heads of State of Latin America and the Caribbean have pledged to work towards a world free of nuclear weapons and emphasized “the commitment to participate actively and share a common position at the High Level Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on Nuclear Disarmament” on September 26, 2013 in New York.
The leaders reaffirmed the priority objective to achieve a world free of atomic weapons in the Santiago Declaration adopted on January 28 at the first summit of CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) in Santiago de Chile. The Declaration builds on last year’s Special Communique on the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons adopted at the founding conference of CELAC in Caracas.
Mayors for Peace 2020 Vision Campaign, the leading international organization devoted to protecting cities from the scourge of war and mass destruction, which lobbied CELAC ahead of the Santiago Summit, has welcomed the commitment of the group’s leaders to prepare a common position for the September 2013 summit.
Mayors for Peace also welcome news of the engagement of OPANAL (the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean) in the work of CELAC. A CELAC Working-Group with the participation of the Secretary-General of OPANAL, Ambassador Gioconda Ubeda, will develop the joint positions of the 33 Latin American and Caribbean States for the September gathering. Mayors for Peace, which has 614 members in Latin America and the Caribbean, is looking forward to engage with OPANAL towards the UN Summit.
OPANAL was created in 1969 in order to safeguard the Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone established by the Tlatelolco Treaty, “which established the first most densely populated nuclear-weapon-free zone on the planet” in 1967.Since 2002, the 33 Members of CELAC are also OPANAL Member States and Parties to the Treaty of Tlatelolco.
A “perfect vision”
The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is on record having stated that ”the 2020 Vision is a perfect vision”. The U.S. Conference of Mayors unanimously adopted a resolution calling on President Barack Obama to work with the leaders of the other nuclear weapon states to implement Ban’s five-point plan to negotiate the elimination of nuclear weapons, by the year 2020.
Ban’s proposal tabled on the International Day of Peace on September 21, 2009 urges: All parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, especially the nuclear-weapon States, to fulfil its requirement to enter into negotiations on nuclear disarmament, which could focus on either a convention or framework of agreements banning nuclear-weapons.
It also calls upon the nuclear-weapon States to assure non-nuclear-weapon States that they will not be the subject of the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. It adds:
– Existing nuclear arrangements and agreements (e.g. a ban on testing, nuclear-weapon-free zones, and strengthened safeguards) need be accepted by States and brought into force.
– The nuclear Powers could also expand the amount of information they publish about the size of their arsenals, stocks of fissile material, and specific disarmament achievements.
– Complementary measures are needed such as the elimination of other types of WMD (weapons of mass destruction); new efforts against WMD terrorism; limits on conventional arms; and new weapons bans, including of missiles and space weapons.
The Santiago Declaration underscores the importance given to eliminating the nuclear threat by its leaders. CELAC recognizes “the value and contribution to peace and international security of the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean and its Protocols (Tlatelolco Treaty).
The Latin American and Caribbean Heads of State “call on nuclear powers to withdraw the Reservations or Interpretative Declarations made to Additional Protocols to the Treaty of Tlatelolco; and to respect the denuclearized status of the region”.
CELAC further states: “We consider that the existence of nuclear weapons remains a serious threat to mankind. We express our strong support to the conclusion of legally binding instruments that lead to effective, irreversible and verifiable nuclear disarmament, in order to achieve the goal of the complete elimination of all nuclear weapons within well-defined time limits.”
The pro-active CELAC leadership to free the world of nuclear weapons stands in contrast with the very vague reference to the NPT in the common CELAC-EU Santiago Declaration (# 20) adopted last Sunday where it states: “Considering the contribution to peace that can be made by CELAC and the EU in international affairs, we agree to explore together ways to enhance cooperation for peace and the peaceful settlement of disputes and the promotion of disarmament and non-proliferation at international level. In this regard, we will cooperate to ensure the success of the NPT Review Conference in 2015.”
Analysing the Santiago Declaration, Aaron Tovish and Pol Heanna DHuyvetter say: “The vague language does not come as a surprise as the European Union has two nuclear weapon states, France and the UK, amongst its members. Furthermore most of the EU member states rely on NATOs nuclear doctrines while U.S. nuclear weapons are deployed in Belgium, Germany, Italy and The Netherlands.”
According to Mercopress, the final EU-CELAC statement also differs from the language adopted by CELAC members who openly support Argentine claims over the Falklands and called “to overcome the existence of colonialist practices in the continent” which affect Argentina. They also expressed “concern with the growing militarization and introduction of nuclear weapons to the South Atlantic”.
The CELAC leaders resolved that the new troika (Chile, Cuba and Costa Rica) will be joined by Haiti, the President of CARICOM (Caribbean Community), thus forming a quartet. It was also decided that after the Costa Rican Presidency of CELAC in 2015, Ecuador will have the presidency in 2016. The CELAC Summit concluded with President Raúl Castro of Cuba receiving the rotating Presidency from Presdient Sebastián Piñera of Chile. [IDN-InDepthNews – February 7, 2013]
Image: CELAC Flag