What Is The Union of South American Nations?

The flag of the Union of South American Nations.
The flag of the Union of South American Nations.

The Union of South American Nations (USAN) is a regional intergovernmental organization made up of 12 South American states. On May 23rd, 2008 during the Third Summit of Heads of State which took place in Brazil, the USAN Constitutive Treaty was signed. On December 1st, 2010, Uruguay became the ninth state to accede the USAN treaty and therefore gave the union full legality. 

USAN, going into full force, became a syndicate on March 11th, 2011 during a meeting of Foreign Ministers held in Mitad del Mundo, Ecuador where the foundation stone for the Secretariat headquarters was laid. On May 4th, 2010 the former president of Argentina was elected as USAN’S first Secretary General to serve a term of two years during heads of state summit held in Campana, Argentina. The South American Parliament is going to be located in Cochabamba in Bolivia while its bank’s headquarters known as the Bank of South is located in Caracas, Venezuela. In consonance with the Constitutive Treaty, the headquarters for USAN will be in Quito, Ecuador.

History And The Formation Of USAN

Spanish and Portuguese colonialism brought about development and establishment of strong empires in Latin America which gave rise to strong independent nations after the colonial era. In the 1990s Brazil was the most economically powerful country in South America which prompted it to promote the idea of a unified South America with Brazil being the focal point; however, the project did not kick off until later in the 2000s. The complete integration of the USAN member states was formalized on May 23rd, 2008 in Brazil during the South American heads of state meeting. The Cuzco Declaration which was the foundation for USAN was signed in 2004 by the representatives of 12 South American nations during the South American Summit. Part of the Union’s mandate during the meeting was to announce the intention of establishing a new Latin American community with shared interests such as a single parliament, currency, and a unified passport.

The Union’s Naming

Originally, USAN was known as the South American Community of Nations (CNS) before the former Foreign Minister of Chile proposed a name change to the South American Union on December 28th, 2005. Members rejected the proposal arguing that its acronym of U.S.A would bring a lot of confusion with the analogy for the United States of America. On April 16th, 2007 the name was finally changed to the Union of South American Nations during the first meeting of the first South American Energy Summit that took place in Isla Margarita, Venezuela.

The Structure Of The Organization

USAN has a permanent secretariat which is to be established in Quito, Ecuador and will be headed by the Secretary General who is to be elected consensually by the heads of state and serve a two-year term. The presidents of the member states of USAN will annually convene a meeting of the superior political mandate. The head position of USAN which is the Presidency Pro Tempore is held on a one-year basis by one of the heads of states of each of USAN’s member state whose succession follows alphabetical order. The first leader was Michelle Bachelet, the Chilean president while the incumbent leader is Nicolas Maduro who is the president of Venezuela. The Foreign Affairs Ministers of the member states will meet once after every six months to formulate proposals for action and executive decisions.

The Member States Of USAN

There are 12 countries participating in the USAN and they include; Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela. The Union has two observing states which are Mexico and Panama.


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