The Treaty of Tlatelolco and its influence worldwide

by Raffael Monroy



Mexican initiative

After Hiroshima

WFC Prize and Nobel Prize





Nuclear energy is currently one of the most significant issues in geopolitics and geoeconomics globally and oftentimes brings with it military concerns, struggles among oil producing and consuming countries and of course, the pursuit of international political power. The matter that has more weight in this regard is the diversion of nuclear energy for peaceful to military purposes, i.e. the production and use of nuclear weapons, and this is where The Treaty of Tlatelolco is placed as a global example, valued for its effectiveness and efficiency against the production, use and proliferation of such weapons as well as the promotion of general and complete disarmament.

Official Symbol of the Treaty of Tlatelolco in Spanish

treaty logoSource:×252.jpg

Mexican initiative

The Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (better known as the Treaty of Tlatelolco) is an international treaty establishing the denuclearization of the territory of Latin America and the Caribbean by its signatory countries. It was proposed by the Mexican president Gustavo Diaz Ordaz and promoted by the Mexican diplomat Alfonso García Robles in response to the fear generated by the missile crisis in Cuba in 1962.

The preparation of the text was entrusted to the Preparatory Commission for the denuclearization of Latin America (known in Spanish as COPREDAL), chaired by Jorge Castañeda and Alvarez de la Rosa, who established its headquarters in Mexico City and held four plenary sessions. The Treaty, completed by the COPREDAL on February 12th 1967, was made available to countries for signature on 14th February and took effect on April 25th 1969. The organization responsible for monitoring compliance with the treaty is the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (known in Spanish as OPANAL).

After Hiroshima

After the holocaust of Hiroshima, that is to say, after August 6th 1945, the leaders and peoples of the world faced a new ethical code for humanity. In 1945, the world learned – in a cruel and horrific way -about the destructive power of nuclear energy when diverted for military purposes. The reality of 1945 and the clash of regional blocks induced its military military application.

Since then, the world became aware that nuclear weapons are unlike any other weapons. A single nuclear warhead can cause enormous damage anywhere even years after the atomic explosion occurs. Because of this unique destructive power, this weapon has not been used again since the bombing of Nagasaki, three days after Hiroshima, on August 9th 1945. Reaffirming that the world faced a new code of ethics, we have to stress nowadays that the damage caused by nuclear war is one that has no legal limits, nor political boundaries or moral reasons.                         

WFC Prize and Nobel Prize

The Treaty of Tlatelolco was a historic event for peace and security in the region, which led to the first successful initiative to establish a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (NWFZ) following treaties on NWFZs in the Antarctic and outer space. Significantly, the Treaty of Tlatelolco was the first NWFZ to cover an inhabited region of the world. In 1969, the Agency for Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (known in Spanish as OPANAL) was created which is the only agency of its kind among the five NWFZs that exist today on the planet. The man behind the treaty was Alfonso García Robles who, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1982 for his efforts in promoting the agreement and for his vision and commitment together with the Swedish diplomat Alva Myrdal, being this way the first Mexican awarded with such honor.

Moreover, The Treaty of Tlatelolco was proclaimed winner of the Future Policy Award for sustainable disarmament on the 23rd of October 2013 , outclassing/beating 24 other nominated policies for the prize. The treaty won the Gold Award due to its priceless contribution to seek peace and security and setting a best case example for other NWFZs.

Alfonso García Robles in 1981 – The man behind the Treaty of Tlatelolco



The geostrategic importance of nuclear energy in the current international scenario calls for greater dynamism in the process of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and Latin America and the Caribbean play their rightful role facing this new development. Today, more than ever, it is necessary to join efforts to advance irreversibly towards a world free of nuclear weapons. Latin America and the Caribbean have done their job, now it is time for every nation to seek not only peace, but general nuclear disarmament as well.



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