IATE Term of the Week: UNASUR (Union of South American Nations)


The acronym UNASUR stands for Union of South American Nations and refers to an intergovernmental body created in 2008 and which facilitates all kinds of cooperation in South America. 

UNASUR includes 12 member countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela. This cooperation allows a better communication and collaboration for political, environmental, cultural, economic, and social matters for all of the members of this body. It also encourages and helps the decrease of social inequalities, the promotion of South American culture and the reinforcement of the democracy in the South American region.

It was established in the city of Brasilia (in the Western Central part of Brazil), on the 23rd of May 2008. The first propositions were made in the year 2000 by the Brazilian politician Enrique Cardoso. Its main purpose is to strengthen political cooperation and dialogue in the region as well as Latin America identity in a regional and international scale. This initiative is considered as the successor of South American Community of Nations gathering the two groups of Andean Community and Mercosur.

The main organs of the UNASUR are the following:

  • The Council of Heads of State and of Government
  • The Council of Foreign Affairs Ministers
  • The Council of Delegates

The Council of Heads of State and of Government is the first body created for UNASUR and also the main and most important one. Its purpose is to draw the political projects, the action plans, policy guidelines and programs for the South American integration. All of the member states involved in UNASUR take part in this Council and in the decision-making of this committee. They meet once a year. Since 2013, Suriname is in charge of the Council of Heads of State and of Government.

The Council of Foreign Affairs Ministers is the second body of the cooperation and gathers all of the Foreign Ministers of the member states of UNASUR and they adopt the solutions to execute the decisions made by the Council of Heads of State as well as proposing drafts to the first body. The members meet twice per year. 

The Council of Delegates is composed of one representative for each member state of the intergovernmental body and is the third body of UNASUR. It applies and implements the decisions and rules decided by the first bodies of UNASUR and also coordinates all of the decision previously taken. The members meet every two months. 

These three main bodies are supported and complemented by a Secretary General and a Presidency Pro Tempore. The Secretary General is considered as the legal representative of the General Secretariat of UNASUR, it is the most important function that can be held at UNASUR. He or she must be chosen by the Council of Heads of State and of Government for two years. This position is not occupied at the moment and the last person to occupy it was Ernesto Samper, a Colombian politician. The situation is the same for the head position of the president Pro Tempore. Since 2019, no one is occupying this position and the last president to occupy it was Evo Morales, president of Bolivia.


AS/COA. 2022. Explainer: What Is UNASUR? | AS/COA. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.as-coa.org/articles/explainer-what-unasur. [Accessed 02 September 2022].

Encyclopedia Britannica. 2022. UNASUR | South American organization | Britannica. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.britannica.com/topic/UNASUR. [Accessed 02 September 2022]. 

Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) | Cancillería. 2022. Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) | Cancillería. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.cancilleria.gov.co/en/union-south-american-nations-unasur. [Accessed 02 September 2022].

UNASUR Secretaría General / Rolan Bastidas. 2022. UNASUR / Todos Somos UNASUR. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.unasursg.org. [Accessed 02 September 2022].

Written by CĂ©cile Mayeres

She holds a Master’s degree in Translation and Cross-Cultural Communication with a specialization in European mobility. She now does a traineeship in Communication at the Terminology Coordination Unit.