Welcome remarks by Dr. Arvind Gupta, DG, IDSA at Conference on "Security Issues in Latin America: Experience of UNASUR"
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  • October 29, 2012

    Event: Conference on "Security Issues in Latin America: Experience of UNASUR"

    Amb Bhojwani,
    Friends, Ladies and gentlemen,

    IDSA is privileged and honored to have YOU ALL at today’s conference on SECURITY ISSUES IN LATIN AMERICA: EXPERIENCE OF UNASUR.

    I would like to welcome the ambassadors of UNASUR countries and other Latin American and Caribbean countries to IDSA for their participation in the Conference.

    I am particularly grateful to Ambassador Deepak Bhojwani for having agreed to moderate today's session. He has helped IDSA conceptualize and organise today's event.

    He suggested that should organize a discussion on UNASUR to enhance awareness and understanding of regional integration processes in South America. His vast diplomatic experience in Latin America has been valuable for us in organsing this Conference.

    I also welcome Mr Damu Ravi, Joint Secretary MEA, in charge of India’s relations with Latin American and Caribbean region. We hope to progress our Latin America research programme with his cooperation.

    I am also grateful to His Excellency Javier Paulinich, the Ambassador of Peru for agreeing to deliver the key note address today.

    In 2004 South American Summit, the 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.

    UNASUR is relatively a new organization. The treaty came into force in 2011. it has set for itself an ambitious target of strengthening the regional integration for common benefit.

    The key organs 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

    UNASUR has set up nine ministerial councils to bring about regional integration in different areas including social Development, fight against drug traffic, Health Education, Culture, Science, Technology and Innovation, Defence, Energy, Economy and Finances, Infrastructure and Planning and Electoral Council.

    The South American Defence Council (CDS) was proposed by Venezuela and Brazil to serve as a mechanism for regional security, not an alliance like NATO, But a cooperative security arrangement, enhancing multilateral military cooperation, promoting confidence and security building measures and fostering defense industry exchanges.

    In its short history, it has already played an important role in several areas, notably in mediating in Colombia-Venezuela diplomatic crisis of 2010 and in creating a Haiti UNASUR fund of 100 million dollars. Other significant achievements include limiting defence expenditure, reducing crime, integrating energy and financial systems, handling constitutional crisis in Ecuador and Paraguay. We will hear more of this in today's Conference.

    South America, like South Asia faces multiple security challenges like drug trafficking, organized crime, conflicts of various kinds. The point worth noting is that South American countries are coming together to take on these challenges.

    IN south Asia too we have SAARC and we have BIMSTEC which bring together countries of South Asia and in the Bay of Bengal region. But the progress in forging regional integration in our part of the world has been slow. Therefore, we should understand the experience of UNASUR in promoting regional integration in South America. We will learn today how successful UNASUR HAS been in dealing with the numerous security challenges.

    This is our first major Conference on Latin America. We hope to have more such events in future so as to deepen our understanding of the region and also to identify opportunities for cooperation between India and Latin America.

    I would like to request ambassador Bhojwani to kindly conduct the Conference.

    Thank you.