On February 15, 2021, a commemorative event was held on the occasion of the 54th anniversary of the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco), which more than five decades ago established Latin America and the Caribbean as the first region completely free of nuclear weapons.
The Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL), organized a commemorative virtual event to celebrate the 54th anniversary of the opening for signature of the Treaty of Tlatelolco, recognized worldwide as a major accomplishment for the Latin American diplomacy in matters of disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, that turned our region into the pioneering Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zone.
The February 15th event was attended by important personalities in the disarmament field who came together to commemorate the anniversary of the Treaty of Tlatelolco. The event, open to the public in general, was moderated by the Ambassador of the Republic of Argentina in Mexico, H.E. Carlos Alfonso Tomada.
The following are some of the highlights of the interventions carried out during the event:
- Ambassador Flavio Roberto Bonzanini, Secretary General of OPANAL, emphasized that the Treaty of Tlatelolco has been a true watershed in matters of disarmament, not only at the moment of its creation, but also by having been an important reference during subsequent negotiations of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which have continued to advance faithfully on the road to nuclear disarmament.
- Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, recognized the great work carried out by the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL) in encouraging actions that promote both international security and peace keeping, and confirmed the support of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) to the Agency and the existing Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zones. Mrs. Nakamitsu also shared the great news that that “the Office for Disarmament Affairs recently launched a consolidated web platform for the coordination and exchange of best practices in areas of mutual interest”, recalling that the Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zones are emblematic instruments that exemplify the synergy of the regional and global efforts in pursuit of a nuclear weapon free world.
- The Executive Secretary of the African Commission on Nuclear Energy (AFCONE), Mr. Messaoud Baaliouamer, reiterated his recognition of the work made by the countries committed to denuclearization, emphasizing the Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zones and Mongolia, and stressing the relevance of such actions for the African Continent, as well as the full support to use nuclear energy only for scientific and technological objectives that have a peaceful purpose. He also remarked the constant cooperation between AFCONE and OPANAL, and the close and regular contact between two organizations in order to further develop and enhance a program of cooperation towards the implementation of global peace and security objectives together. Mr. Baalioumer further informed that AFCONE was preparing its 5th Conference of States Parties, to be held in 2021, and to which he will extend an invitation to the Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zones in Latin America and the Caribbean.
- Ambassador Rafael M. Grossi, Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recalled the IAEA´s support to the international community to continue with the disarmament work and to develop and implement the national legal frameworks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, taking into account international guidelines. Ambassador Grossi also reaffirmed the strong and close relationship between the IAEA and OPANAL, in matters of cooperation in the establishment and compliance of safeguards, reiterating the specific role conferred to IAEA in the Treaty of Tlatelolco, of being the competent and responsible authority in charge of verifying that “all contracting parties are in compliance with the safeguards agreements concluded with the IAEA in fulfillment of their non-proliferation obligations”.
- Ms. Elena Maceiras, Secretary of the Brazilian-Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials (ABACC), expressed during her statement her appreciation for the work that OPANAL has done by making possible the successful implementation of the Treaty of Tlatelolco, and recalled the role it had in the consolidation of ABACC, helping to improve the implementation of efficient controls to verify the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and jointly established a framework for regular consultations, harmonization of activities and exchange of scientific and technical support work. Ms. Maceiras emphasized that “fostering trust and cooperation between countries is working in favor of regional and international security”.
- Ambassador Gustavo Zlauvinen, President-Designate of the 10th Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), recalled that the NPT is the cornerstone of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime, based on 3 fundamental pillars: disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful use of nuclear energy; and emphasized the importance of the Treaty of Tlatelolco in solidifying and strengthening the NPT. During his intervention, Ambassador Zlauvinen also highlighted that Latin America and the Caribbean as the first Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone ever created, has globally served as an inspiration in disarmament issues and remarked the great relevance of the Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones in advancing towards the goal of achieving general and complete disarmament under effective international control and guaranteeing that non-nuclear States will not be able to be threatened with the use of nuclear weapons by the nuclear-weapon States.
- Dr. Eduardo Jaramillo Navarrete, Director-General for the United Nations Organization of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, highlighted the great relevance of the disarmament issue, especially now in the context of the pandemic, since a large amount of resources are spent on nuclear weapons while they could be used today more than ever to fight the global health crisis. He also highlighted even though the Treaty of Tlatelolco was a great step at the international level in the field of disarmament, there is still much to be done. Fortunately, great steps continue to be taken in this area, such as the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) on January 22nd, a great joint achievement of international organizations and civil society. He also reaffirmed the historic responsibility of the Latin America and the Caribbean region to continue to play a key role in the path of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.
All the personalities presented at the event highlighted the great contribution of the Treaty of Tlatelolco to international security, and reaffirmed the support of their respective organizations to OPANAL’s disarmament work. They also emphasized the work that remains to be done and urged the international community to continue the dialogue and create constructive strategies to achieve the common goal of a world free of nuclear weapons for future generations.
Within the same framework of the commemoration of the 54th anniversary of the Treaty of Tlatelolco, the Member States of OPANAL, issued a Joint Communique, which was summarized by the President of the Council, who underlined the following:
- A highlight of the great work done by each one of the Parties to safeguard the provisions of the Treaty and to ensure nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.
- The Communiqué also emphasized the relevance of the existence and maintenance of Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zones as they “promote regional and international peace and stability by prohibiting the possession, acquisition development, testing, manufacture, production, stockpiling, stationing and use of nuclear weapons”.
- The establishment of new nuclear weapon free zones through arrangements freely agreed at among States of the respective regions and underline the importance of this zones in contributing to the achievement of nuclear disarmament.
- “The obligation derived from article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which commits each Party to ‘pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control”.
- That nuclear weapons should never again be used by any actor under any circumstances, an action that can only be assured “by the prohibition and the subsequent transparent, verifiable and irreversible elimination of all nuclear weapons”.
- That the recent entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons “joins the path towards the elimination of those weapons of mass destruction that have marked the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco) and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons”.