Union of South American Nations

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Union of South American Nations


Flag of the UNASUR

English name Union of South American Nations
Spanish name Unión de Naciones Suramericanas
Organization type Regional cooperation
Seat of the organs Quito , Ecuador (Secretariat) EcuadorEcuador 
Chair BoliviaBolivia Evo Morales
(changing annually)
Secretary General vacant
Member States
Official and working languages
surface 17,519,653 km²
population 391.6 million (2010)
Population density 22.4 inhabitants per km²
gross domestic product US $ 4,120 billion (nominal, 2013)
Gross domestic product per inhabitant US $ 10,522 per inhabitant (2013)

August 23, 2008

Time zone UTC − 6 to UTC − 3
Subsidiary organizations
  • South American Parliament
  • Bank of the South (BANSUR)
  • Initiative for regional infrastructure integration in South America (IIRSA)

The Union of South American Nations ( Spanish Unión de Naciones Suramericanas UNASUR , Portuguese União das Nações Sul-Americanas UNASUL , English Union of South American Nations , Dutch Unie van Zuid-Amerikaanse Naties ) is an international organization of the twelve South American states. The founding agreement was signed on May 23, 2008 in Brasília ( Brazil ). The main secretariat of the State Union has its seat in Quito ( Ecuador ), the general assembly in Cochabamba ( Bolivia ). Mexico and Panama have observer status . Numerous countries announced their exit from UNASUR in 2018.

Member States

The founding treaty was signed by all twelve independent states in South America: the members of the Andean Community ( Bolivia , Colombia , Ecuador , Peru ), the members of Mercosur ( Argentina , Brazil , Paraguay , Uruguay , Venezuela ), the two members from the Caribbean Community ( Guyana and Suriname ) and Chile , which previously did not belong to any of these communities. Paraguay was temporarily excluded from UNASUR due to the impeachment of President Fernando Lugo . French Guiana and the Falkland Islands as well as South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands are consequently not involved as European-dependent territories.


The founding charter states that the aim of the cooperation is the fight against “inequality, social exclusion, hunger, poverty and insecurity”.

An integration comparable to that of the European Union is to be achieved by 2025 . A common currency ("sucre"), parliament and passports are planned . The first concrete project is the construction of the 6,200-kilometer “ Transoceánica ” road link from the Atlantic coast of Brazil to the Pacific in Peru. In addition to economic integration , the majority of member states want to establish a common foreign and security policy with the Union.

Soon after it was founded, it became apparent that, due to the low willingness to integrate on the part of some member states, there was little prospect of achieving intergovernmental cooperation similar to that of the European Union in the medium term. The previous South American alliances Mercosur , Andean Community and Caribbean Community have suffered for many years from a lack of willingness on the part of their members to cede extensive competencies to the supranational alliances.


Even before the founding of the community there were South American integration efforts. The former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso had already tried unsuccessfully to bring the countries of the continent to negotiations, among other things to reduce the influence of the USA.

On December 16, 2003, the member countries of Mercosur and the Andean Community signed an agreement on a joint free trade area .

The cooperation was preceded by three summit meetings that took place in 2000, 2002 and 2004. At the third summit on December 8, 2004 in Cusco , Peru , on the 180th anniversary of the Battle of Ayacucho , which sealed the end of Spanish colonial rule in 1824 , the presidents or representatives of twelve South American states signed the Cuzco Declaration . This was a bilateral decision in which they undertook to coordinate their policies and liberalize trade . The existing Mercosur and Andean Pact treaties should be merged into a large free trade area. The formally founded, loose confederation of states operated under the name South American Community of States (Spanish Comunidad Sudamericana de Naciones , Portuguese Comunidade Sul-Americana de Nações , English South American Community of Nations , Dutch Zuid-Amerikaanse Statengemeenschap , abbreviated CSN ).

In April 2007 it was decided to set up the main secretariat in Quito (Ecuador) and to adapt the name to the more intensive cooperation.

The former Ecuadorian President Rodrigo Borja , who had been scheduled for the office of General Secretary since May 2007 , withdrew his candidacy one day before the signing of the founding charter because the decision-making powers envisaged for the office were insufficient.

On March 10, 2009, a joint defense council was established. This does not see itself as a conventional military alliance, but as a discussion forum for the defense ministers of the member states.

On May 4, 2010, at a summit in Campana (Argentina), the former Argentine President Néstor Kirchner was elected UNASUR's first general secretary for two years. However, he died a short time later on October 27, 2010. He was succeeded on May 9, 2011 by the former Colombian Foreign Minister María Emma Mejía . She was followed on June 11, 2012 by the former Venezuelan Minister for Electricity Alí Rodríguez Araque . The Colombian politician Ernesto Samper Pizano held the office from August 22, 2014 to January 31, 2017 , and it has been vacant since then.

The Colombian government under President Iván Duque announced on August 10, 2018 that it would leave the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR). Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Peru had also announced their exit in April 2018. After eight members resigned from the left-wing UNASUR alliance in the dispute over their positioning in the Venezuela conflict, they founded the regional alliance Prosur as an alternative in March 2019 .

Key figures

GDP (PPP) comparison (IMF, 2018, top 10, unordered)

In the member states of the Union of South American Nations, around 390 million people live in an area of ​​around 17.5 million km². With a human development index of over 0.81, Chile and Argentina show a very high level of development, most states such as those of the former Greater Colombia are in the global midfield and Guyana is the least developed nation in South America with 0.63.

Regional cooperation UNASUR ECO NAFTA EU ASEAN AU 1
Residents 392 million 433 million 465 million 506 million 607 million 1,100 million
Member States 12 10 3 28 10 54
Area (in km² ) 17,519,653 8,054,875 21,588,638 4,381,324 4,480,331 29,797,500
Gross Regional Product ( GDP , $ ) 4.12 Bill. 1.03 trillion 19.88 tr. 17.27 bill. 2.41 trillion 1.97 trillion
Foreign debt ($) 315 billion 15,814 billion

1 The data from Africa are roughly estimated.

The member countries of UNASUR together have the world's largest crude oil reserves , the largest water reserves , take second place in natural gas reserves , and three member states account for almost a quarter of the global tin deposits . In addition, the Amazon is (still) the largest contiguous area of tropical rainforests .


Main Union Secretariat in Quito (Ecuador) under construction in 2014

In addition to a general secretary and a parliament, the establishment of three councils is planned:

  • a council of heads of state, which is to meet once a year,
  • a council of foreign ministers as well
  • a council of delegates from each country.

Meanwhile, a total of twelve further councils are in the development phase in the following areas:

  • defense
  • Economy and finance
  • energy
  • Infrastructure and planning
  • Science, technology and innovation
  • Social Development
  • health
  • education
  • Culture
  • elections
  • Citizen security, justice and coordination of action against organized, transnational crime
  • Solving the global drug problem

The presidency rotates annually between the individual member states. The Bank of the South was founded by seven UNASUR countries on September 26, 2009 to support the other cooperation decisions . Although this is not yet fully established, it should form the financial basis of the Union in the future.


“We are witnessing a historical event with which the dream of the liberator Simón Bolívar begins to become reality after 180 years. Today we are creating a new country with 361 million inhabitants. "

- Alejandro Toledo , Peruvian President from 2001 to 2006, December 8, 2004

"With the establishment of a community of states, a step was taken in the right direction to make the dream of Bolívar and our liberators come true."

- Hugo Chávez , President of Venezuela, December 8, 2004

See also


Web links

Commons : Union of South American Nations  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. World Economic Outlook Database, October 2013
  2. a b List of countries according to gross domestic product
  3. Chavez suspects drug mafia behind the impeachment of Paraguay's head of state , de.rian.ru of July 17, 2012.
  4. New single currency: Latin America is rehearsing a revolt against the dollar .
  5. The ECU in Latin America: Seven left-wing states are planning a common currency
  6. EU-Latin America summit - Euro crisis dominates Merkel's agenda in Chile. In: spiegel.de. January 26, 2013, accessed November 21, 2018 .
  7. A currency for South America: balance sheet on Luiz Lula's social, economic and foreign policy
  8. ^ Declaration by the heads of state of South America at the energy summit on April 16, 2007 ( Memento of May 3, 2007 in the Internet Archive ).
  9. ^ Constituido Consejo Suramericano de Defensa. In: telesurtv.net. March 10, 2009, archived from the original on September 3, 2009 ; accessed on March 24, 2019 (Spanish).
  10. UNASUR with new Secretary General , Amerika21.de of May 11, 2011.
  11. Eva Haule: Venezuelan is the new General Secretary of Unasur. In: amerika21.de . June 13, 2012, accessed November 7, 2019.
  12. Colombia dejará de ser miembro de Unasur. In: CNN Espanol . August 10, 2018, accessed August 10, 2018 (Spanish).
  13. South American states found new regional alliance. In: www.faz.net. March 22, 2019, accessed March 22, 2019 .
  14. ^ Human Development Index
  15. List of the countries of the world
  16. List of countries according to external debt
  17. ABN: Unasur nace para cambiar las relaciones de poder en el mundo ( Memento of September 3, 2009 in the Internet Archive ), October 9, 2008.
  18. Lindon Sanmartín Rodríguez: Sede permanente de la Unasur en la Mitad del Mundo registra avance del 80%. In: srradio.com.ec. June 19, 2014, accessed May 31, 2019 (Spanish).
  19. ^ Councils. UNASUR, accessed on December 16, 2015 .