The multilateral agenda for this month of March refers us to the important meeting that will take place in Santo Domingo on the 24th and 25th. Under the slogan “Together for a just and sustainable Ibero-America”, the 22 countries that make up the Ibero-American community will debate a broad collaboration agenda both at the regional level and with Spain and Portugal.
The Summit of the Dominican Republic will be the XXVIII since this space for political coordination and cooperation was launched more than 30 years ago, on the occasion of the commemoration of the V Centennial of the Discovery of America. Since then, a lot has happened and the so-called Ibero-American common space has developed in light of the political cycles that have marked recent Latin American history, with consequent ups and downs.
The awareness of a certain fatigue of summits and a growing ideological fragmentation determined that, in the Veracruz Summit of 2014, it was decided that these meetings at the level of Heads of State and Government go from an annual periodicity to a more biennial space. But this is not an obstacle for its driving force, the Ibero-American General Secretariat, to continue carrying out incessant work throughout the year: not only preparing the leaders’ summits, but also complying with their mandates, accompanying the holding of ministerial meetings –both external and sectorial–, calling various forums and meetings with civil society actors, and always placing special emphasis on promoting cooperation.
The imminent summit in Santo Domingo will be the first fully face-to-face after the pandemic, if we consider that the last meeting held in Andorra in April 2021 was still quite hybrid in nature. It will also be the first meeting since the current Ibero-American Secretary General, Chilean Andrés Allamand, took office, taking over from Costa Rican Rebeca Grynspan just over a year ago. As a third distinctive feature, it should be noted that the Dominican meeting will take place just three months after Spain assumes the semi-annual presidency of the Council of the EU, a responsibility that the Spanish government assumes with a clear desire to relaunch relations between Europe and Latin America. , somewhat crestfallen in recent years.
It is encouraging that the Summit’s agenda has been articulated around four major priorities that reflect some of the main challenges facing the region: environment, technological disruption, food security and financing for development. Even more promising is the fact that the adoption by the Heads of State and Government meeting in Santo Domingo of a series of specific instruments that promote collaboration in these areas is planned: an Environmental Charter that establishes positions and guides policies for combat climate change and biodiversity loss; a Charter of Digital Principles and Rights to combat the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities of digitization; a Strategy to promote food security through intraregional trade and greater resilience of national supply chains; and a Special Communiqué with proposals to reform the international financial system and make it fairer and more inclusive, especially in the current post-pandemic and energy transition context.
At a time when multilateralism is perceived with misgivings, fatigue and a no lesser dose of skepticism, the landing of this type of summit in concrete proposals and actions is good news. We live in a world increasingly marked by rivalry and the struggle for power, little conducive to great agreements such as those that marked the post-Cold War or even the first half of the last decade, and that allowed us to promote the fight against climate change or put implementation of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. The Ibero-American Summits have a modest scope, but in the current situation of confrontation and paralysis in the main organs of the United Nations and important forums such as the G20, the fact of agreeing on communications, declarations and instruments deserves to be recognized.
We must also see with hope the possibility of structuring greater collaboration between Europe and Latin America, capitalizing on the transmission belt offered by the Ibero-American space. The focus on specific issues in which there is a certain convergence of values and principles between both sides of the Atlantic is something that must be taken advantage of, as well as the marked progressive alignment that we are currently experiencing between the Iberian governments and those of the main countries Latin Americans. It is an asset that must be managed with moderation and common sense, ensuring its continuity beyond political cycles.
The reality is that the strengthening of cooperation between Europe and Latin America may be a timid but interesting green shoot of multilateralism at a time when the great forces of geopolitics seem to point in the opposite direction. Said collaboration, with the Ibero-American process as a catalyst, can serve as an inspiration and guide to other major global players in an uncertain and changing time like the one we live in, demonstrating that international collaboration is the only way to give a comprehensive and efficient response to our great challenges as humanity.
—The author is Vice Dean, School of Politics, Economics and Global Affairs at IE University.