Colombia to Join NATO and OECD

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The President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, has announced that the South American nation will be the first Latin American country to join NATO as a ‘global partner’.

In a televised speech on Friday and in a series of tweets published on his personal Twitter account, Mr Santos said that the country will formalize its membership of the organisation at a meeting in Brussels with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on 31st May.

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Global partners of NATO co-operate with the organisation on areas and issues of ‘mutual interest’, including emerging threats. Some of the eight other countries which hold this form of NATO membership (currently Afghanistan, Australia, Iraq, Japan, South Korea, Mongolia, New Zealand and Pakistan) also actively support or contribute to NATO operations, either militarily or by other means.

First founded in 1949, NATO was created through the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty on 4th April 1949. The organisation aims to ‘guarantee the freedom and security of its members through political and military means’. Under Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, an attack against one NATO member state is considered as an attack against all members (though this Article has so far only been invoked once – in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks in the US in 2001).

All of these global partners have negotiated Individual Partnership Cooperation Programs with the US-led alliance, which define their involvement in NATO operations. In an interview with the AFP news agency, Rafael Piñeros, a professor at Bogotá’s Universidad Externado, explained that the global partner membership of NATO was created so that the bloc could form ‘strategic alliances’ outside of Europe, Canada and the US with the aim of maintaining global peace.

President Santos initially announced his intentions to more actively involve Colombia with NATO in June 2013. The country previously signed an agreement for closer military co-operation with the grouping in December 2016. This agreement was intended to enable the organisation to assist with the implementation of the historic piece agreement signed with the left-wing FARC rebel group (for which Santos won the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize).

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On the same day as the NATO announcement, it was also confirmed that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has accepted Colombia as a member nation. The economic organisation founded in 1961, which is based in Paris, traditionally only accepted industrialised nations as its members, though in recent years has also begun to accept emerging economies.

President Santos said that Colombia’s admission into the OECD would attract more international investment and improve the financing available for infrastructure projects, in addition to making it easier for the country to apply for loans.

He added that, in his view, Colombia’s admission to both organisations would improve the country’s global image.

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Deputy Editor 2017-18, International Editor 2015-17. Languages student adjusting to being back in the UK after a year in Chile. Interested in Latin America, world news, media and politics.

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