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Saúl Gopar Ensáztiga

CALAN and its opportunity before the reconfiguration of the American continent.

- Local governments must pay attention to the windows of opportunity that are generated in the international arena.

CALAN and its opportunity before the reconfiguration of the American continent.

At the end of August of this year, the Secretary of Foreign Relations of Mexico, Marcelo Ebrard Casaubón, announced that the pertinent negotiations were underway between Mexico and the United States to form a new international organization to replace the Organization of American States (OAS). ). The foregoing takes place after the Foreign Minister made comments to the organization asking it to refrain from intervening in the internal affairs of the member states, as well as from pointing out the management of the Secretary General, Luis Leonardo Almagro Lemes.

Given the foreseen context, international relations at the regional level are at a key moment, since there is the possibility of managing an international organization in which Mexico participates as founder, main promoter, and that this in turn gives it a more important role. relevant in the political dynamics of the American continent with the added value of the municipal regional movement.

This paper aims to point out the role of the North American Conference of Local Authorities (CALAN) network in the management process of a new international organization in the American continent. One of the many questions that should be asked at this time is: What opportunities do local governments have in the face of the apparent reconfiguration in the regional system?

First of all, it must be pointed out that CALAN is a young organization, created at the initiative of Secretary Marcelo Ebrard after the celebration of the First Summit of North American Mayors that took place from June 6 to 8, 2019. Within the motivations of this organization, the following stand out:

Facilitate decentralized cooperation and the consolidation of a space for regional dialogue, coordination and collaboration among the cities of North America.

Create an independent association that encompasses the municipalities, mayors, Mexico City and States of the United Mexican States, in order to create a collaborative relationship with other associations of municipalities, mayors, counties, provinces, territories and States of States United States of America and Canada.

The foregoing denotes that this organization's priority is to promote Mexican federal entities and local governments internationally in order to create a solid subnational level both in Mexico and at the regional level through its initiatives, agreements, and future projects. To demonstrate the aforementioned, we can recall the signing of the Letter of Intent between CALAN and the General Directorate of Political Coordination of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE) of Mexico.

On the other hand, although emphasis was placed on the North American region, CALAN has been expanding its commitments with entities from other continents; the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between CALAN and Phare Territorios Locales, an organization established in Spain, and between CALAN and the Guangzhou Institute of Urban Innovation (GIUI),7 originally from China, highlight the efforts that have been made in a short time to strengthen the relationships of this body, and its members, with local governments in Europe and Asia, and not only with local governments in the United States and Canada.

In addition to this, CALAN has also established relationships with relevant organizations of the American continent. Such is the case of the agreements signed with the networks of cities Mercocidades and the Latin American Federation of Cities, Municipalities and Local Government Associations (FLACMA).

In this way, it is demonstrated that CALAN, in its short time of existence, has directed its efforts to interact with key actors on the international stage of local governments, which gives the members of the organization better opportunities to generate synergies with international actors and potentiate their projects with the vast experiences that can be contributed in these spaces.

On the other hand, the possible reconfiguration of the regional system in the American continent, CALAN and its members have a unique opportunity: the possibility of prioritizing local management, as well as the internationalization of the municipal stratum, on the agenda of the new international organization. This is commented, in the first instance, because the efforts for the creation of this body are being carried out with greater emphasis from the Mexican Foreign Ministry, an important partner of CALAN as already mentioned in previous paragraphs.

Secondly, this unique opportunity is alluded to by the existence of CALAN's North American Cities Network (RECAN) initiative; The objective of said Network is to create the first regional space for local governments in North America, where ideas are exchanged to address specific situations, such as the application of the 2030 Agenda at the subnational level, the fight against climate change, the management of water in different localities, cultural, border, and urbanization issues, among others, so that these are addressed from the municipal level and do not depend so much on the federal level.

In turn, the Network intends to strengthen the subnational relationship between Mexico, the United States, and Canada; To help meet this objective, CALAN has decided to add another 300 cities from the three countries to the network, of which 191 localities are already part. Also, the celebration of the Second Summit of North American Mayors is planned for the year 2022, the creation of a bank of experiences and best practices among members, as well as an innovation award.

Strengthening the relationship between local governments in Mexico, Canada, and the United States is key to the development of the entire American continent, including the plans for the new international organization, since the more communication and consensus exists among all the members of the NETWORK on the decisions and actions to be taken will receive more attention and therefore faster progress will be made in their implementation.

Within these actions there may be room for the promotion of the subnational level within the new American organization, an issue that was not adequately considered when the OAS was founded in 1948. Currently, the importance of the role of local governments, as well as the convenience of the generation of international actions of these same, does not find discrepancy in the majority of the countries of the American continent. Proof of this are the various networks of cities that have been generated, the specialization by the academy, among other variables.

However, all the barriers to the internationalization of local governments have not yet been resolved, nor have all local governments in the American continent had the same opportunities to consolidate international strategies that generate development and better opportunities for their population. There is still a lot to be done, so the possible political reconfiguration in the continent presents situations that must be taken advantage of, especially by organizations as young as CALAN.

If the pertinent actions are carried out, there would clearly be greater advantages for CALAN members than can be obtained individually, in terms of economic and political competitiveness. In addition to this, in terms of international cooperation, the experience of the members that make up this organization in the field of Local Diplomacy can be very helpful to those local governments that have benefited little from the internationalization of their territories.

Destiny is never written, and it remains to be seen if the efforts at the national level by Secretary Marcelo Ebrard bear the expected results, however, paraphrasing Doctor Roberto Carlos Hernández López, and also recalling Carlos Marx in his writing "El 18 Brumaire of Luis Bonaparte”, lightning does not fall in a serene sky, referring to the fact that it would not be a surprise if the replacement of the OAS as the prevailing international organization in America became a reality, and that, therefore, we find ourselves before a new stage in the international order in which local diplomacy can have even greater considerations than it already has today and evolve in the ways of carrying out politics at a global, regional, national and local level.

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Gopar, Saúl. “CALAN y su oportunidad ante la reconfiguración del continente Americano..” CEMERI, 14 sept. 2022,