Latin America and the Caribbean

Nuclear Weapon Free Regions

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14 February 2012 marked the 45th anniversary of the Signing of the Treaty of Tlatelolco, and the creation of the first nuclear-weapon-free zone (NWFZ) in the inhabited world.  The Treaty played a crucial role in pioneering the three fundamental pillars that would later be incorporated into the NPT: non-proliferation, disarmament and the promotion of peaceful uses of nuclear energy. In the words of former UN Secretary General U-Thant, The Tlatelolco Treaty was a “beacon of light” to the rest of the world that inspired the creation of further NWFZs that now cover the vast majority of the Southern hemisphere.

The Treaty of Tlatelolco established a solid legal base for the norm of non-proliferation in Latin America and moreover established flexible mechanisms for integrating outliers into the regime as and when the opportunities arose.  This is how Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Cuba were eventually incorporated into the zone.  Currently no Latin American or Caribbean states have nuclear weapons, and none have indicated intent to produce or acquire them. This provides Latin American and Caribbean states, both collectively and in national capacities, with a powerful role to play in the global efforts to prohibit and eliminate all nuclear weapons.


BACKGROUND PAPER: An introduction to the issue of nuclear eeapons in Latin America and the Caribbean
This article provides an overview of the issue of nuclear weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean, with particular emphasis on the establishment of the Latin American and Caribbean nuclear-weapon-free zone, including some of the unusual terms of the treaty and on how the zone came to incorporate states that were initially reluctant to join. With this as a backdrop, the paper also considers the role of Latin American and Caribbean states in the ongoing efforts to prohibit and eliminate all nuclear weapons.

ILPI roundtable discussion in Punta del Este, Dec 2012
On 12-13 December 2012, International Law and Policy Institute (ILPI) convened a roundtable discussion in Punta del Este, Uruguay, in collaboration with Asociación de Lucha para el Desarme Civil (ALUDEC, Uruguay) and Asociación para Políticas Publicas (APP, Argentina). 

ILPI roundtable discussion in Montego Bay, Aug 2014
On 20–21 August 2014, ILPI’s Nuclear Weapons Project convened its 8th regional roundtable meeting in Montego Bay, Jamaica. The meeting was organized in collaboration with the International Centre for Environmental and Nuclear Sciences at the University of the West Indies (ICENS-UWI) and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. 

LEGAL DOCUMENTS: Treaty of Tlatelolco
The treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean or the treaty Tlatelolco was the first treaty to declare a populated area a nuclear-weapon-free zone. The treaty was opened for signature on 14 February 1967, entered into force on 22 April 1968 and has been ratified by all 33 signatory states.