An analysis of the prompt multilateral action taken by a regional organization, the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), in order to mediate a situation of sharp domestic conflict ion Bolivia.The fragile institutions in Bolivia were unable to accommodate mounting tension from fast-paced political reform proposed by the Morales administration at the national level and demands for increased local autonomy by opposition leaders of ‘half-moon’. On 11 September 2008 violence escalated to a peak, with a bloody clash between peasant groups supporting President Morales and the opposing locals in the Pando province.
There were fears of a possible secession and of a coup d’état. In an unprecedented high-level emergency meeting, the then few-months old UNASUR convened leaders of the region only three days after the Pando killings. Before any established organization made a move, UNASUR had a full-fledged plan of action involving the establishment of three commissions staffed by high level politicians, legal experts and forensic teams. Two months later UNASUR issued a report that received general praise for its timely contribution to peace and stability. The approach chosen was analyzed as a tentative case of conflict transformation and its legitimacy tested in terms of the ‘responsibility to protect’ and against the core values of the organization itself. Given the severed diplomatic ties between Bolivia and Chile, the mediation performed by UNASUR is an interesting development for regional integration. Furthermore, the role played by UNASUR in the Bolivian crisis is seen as a departure from the long-standing commitment to sovereignty and non-intervention in the region.
‘The role of UNASUR in the Bolivian crisis’.
Wednesday 13 April, 17:00 – 19:30
Room 104 (Senate House, 1st Floor)
Senate House, South Block, 1st Floor
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