CELAC States: a shining example for the whole world

33 Latin America and Caribbean States  proclaim their region a Zone of Peace – Interview with Prof Dr iur et phil Alfred M. de Zayas, Geneva School of Diplomacy, published on Current Concerns, Feb 20, 2014.

In December 2011, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States / CELAC Communidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y Caribeños was established. This community comprises 33 American states with the exception of the USA and Canada … //

excerpt: …  Current Concerns: Professor de Zayas, how do you assess the Conference of Celac States 14 days ago in Havana? What results have been worked out by the countries of the Community of Latin America and the Caribbean States?  

  • Professor de Zayas: First, it should be noted that a brand new organization was agreed upon  in Rio de Janeiro in 2010 and successfully launched in Caracas in December 2011. It is a gathering of 33 Latin American and Caribbean countries, which see themselves as a region and want to solve their regional problems, in the sense of their traditions, in terms of their culture and in terms of their own interests, which are not always, or rather rarely coterminous with the interests of the United States and Canada. Therefore, one must also understand that Celac is to some extent a competing organization to the Organization of American States OAS. The OAS headquarters in Washington were established in 1948. For decades since then, many Latin Americans states felt patronized by Washington and therefore wanted to escape from this coercion. They are still members of the OAS, but now they have founded their own organization without Canada and the United States. So far this seems to be successful.

How is the success becoming manifest?

  • Previous summits have already been successful. But at the summit held on 28 and 29 Jannuary in Havana, in the presence of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, they took an important step forward for peace, in full conformity with the commitments imposed on all States pursuant to the UN Charter.

Could you please explain in more detail?

  • All countries of the world are, in principle, in favor of peace. All countries of the world give lip service to peace. Article 2, paragraph 4 of the UN Charter states that the states must refrain from the threat or use of force in their international relations. This is jus cogens, binding international law, but unfortunately reality is often quite different. Here, the Latin American countries have set an important example.

How do they plan to do it?

What is this next step?

  • They no longer want to waste their wealth on wars and the war industry, on large armies and large air forces. Therefore, they have declared the whole area a peace zone. They want to reduce and re-direct the war industry so that it can take on peaceful tasks – of which there are more than plenty. This requires financial resources, which must not be wasted. This is the first region in the world – and that is the extraordinary thing – which has declared a Peace Zone. One knows the Antarctica Peace Zone, but nobody lives there. This is as if one declares outer space as a Peace Zone. But if you declare a part of the world with 600 million inhabitants as a Peace Zone, this is going to have consequences and also a signaling effect. Now we have to see how the declaration is put into action.

Have all the associated countries agreed to this declaration?

  • This declaration was adopted by consensus. But it bears repeating that what has been agreed on so far is a declaration and not yet a treaty. It is still a long way from a declaration to the necessary implementation measures that would require inter alia all 33 states to revise their budgets. In addition, they are no longer allowed to participate in military actions operated by other states or to give moral support for military action.

How realistic is that? If countries disarm, it is basically positive, but how are they going to defend themselves if they are attacked from the outside? We know the examples from recent history.

  • It is obvious that an eventual threat from the outside must be addressed. First, there is a commitment within Celac that any conflicts that might arise between the 33 states must be solved peacefully. That is already a significant thing, the obligation to negotiate within the 33 states. But of course, some of these states need to protect the others if a threat from outside is not to lead to concessions and blackmailing. If a threat comes from outside, they might have to defer to the will of the strongest. Of course these are all questions that need to be addressed at the next Celac meeting.

How do you remain capable of defending yourself? This is a question they have to ask themselves, in particular those countries that have experienced interventions or other breaches of their sovereignty, and in Latin America these are not just a few … //

… (full interview text).


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), on CELAC, Jan 29, 2014;

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