Summit of South American Leaders: Leaders agree on high-level group to map out integration pathway for South America

There were a number of decisions taken at the Summit of South American Leaders, including a commitment to establish a high-level group, featuring representatives of various countries, who will collaborate and map out a pathway to accelerate South American integration.
A number of proposals on the way forward were agreed to during the summit in Brazil on Tuesday, where President Dr Irfaan Ali and Foreign Affairs Minister Hugh Todd represented Guyana. One such proposal was the establishment of a high-level group that would come up with a strategy to increase South American integration.
“The Presidents reaffirmed the common vision of South America as a region of peace and cooperation, based on dialogue and on the respect for the diversity of our peoples; committed to democracy and human rights, sustainable development and social justice, the upholding of sovereignty and non-interference,” a statement from the Office of the President said.
This high-level group would comprise representatives of the various countries, led by their respective Foreign Ministers. Upon completion of their work, these proposals would be submitted to the respective Heads of State for consideration. It was also agreed that the leaders would meet again, at a date and place to be determined, to review the progress made on South American cooperation initiatives, and determine the next steps.
A commitment was also made to work towards increasing trade and investments in the region with the aim of maintaining a South American Free Trade Area. The merits of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), which last met with its full complement of leaders in 2014, were also agreed on by the leaders. According to the leaders, there is need for an inclusive and permanent platform where dialogue can be exchanged and the region can be represented to the wider world.
According to the statement, the leaders “recognised the contribution of the different South American integration mechanisms, including UNASUR, and reaffirmed the shared objective of having an inclusive, effective and permanent South American platform of dialogue and cooperation, which is capable of promoting and maintaining the South American integration process, and projecting the voice of the region in a multipolar world.”
It was further agreed to “promptly promote South American cooperation initiatives open to the participation of all interested parties, with a social and gender approach in areas that concern the immediate needs of citizens, in particular the most vulnerable, including indigenous peoples; such as health, food security, food systems based on traditional agriculture, the environment, water resources, natural disasters, infrastructure and logistics, energy interconnection and clean energy, digital transformation, defense, border integration and security, and cybersecurity.”

Peace and cooperation
Meanwhile, the Heads of States reaffirmed the importance of South America maintaining its status as a region of peace and cooperation, based on dialogue and on the respect for the diversity of the region, commitment to democracy and human rights, sustainable development and social justice. Additionally, the importance of upholding sovereignty and non-interference was discussed.
The leaders also concurred “that the world is facing multiple crises in a context of climate crisis, threats to peace and international security, pressure on food and energy chains, the risk of new pandemics, increase in social inequalities, and threats to institutional and democratic stability.”
The Summit of South American Leaders was organized by President Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva at Itamaraty Palace, the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Brazil. It is the first time since the last UNASUR summit held in 2014 that the majority of leaders on the South American continent have gathered for a meeting focused on South American integration.
The other leaders attending the Summit were Colombian President Gustavo Petro; Argentine President Alberto Fernández; Bolivian President Luis Arce; Chilean President Gabriel Boric; Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benítez; Surinamese President Chandrikapersad Santokhi; Ecuadorean President Guillermo Lasso, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and Peruvian Prime Minister Alberto Otárola Peñaranda. (G3)