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MERCOSUR: Global Legal Collections Highlights

The following is a guest post by Graciela Rodriguez-Ferrand, a foreign law specialist who covers Spain, Argentina, and other countries in South America.

As a foreign law specialist for the Law Library of Congress covering most of South America, I thought a blog post on legal resources concerning the Mercado Común del Sur (MERCOSUR) (Southern Common Market) might be helpful.

Montevideo: Sede del MERCOSUR [Photo by Flickr user Christian Ostrosky. Feb. 7, 2009. Used under Creative Commons license.]

The Mercado Común del Sur (MERCOSUR) (Southern Common Market) is a regional integration process created by a treaty signed in 1991 in Asunción, Paraguay, by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, and later joined by Venezuela, whose membership is currently suspended for violation of the democratic commitment under the 1998 Ushuaia Protocol. Bolivia is still in the process of accession.  In addition to state parties, MERCOSUR has associated states, which have signed trade agreements with MERCOSUR, such as Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru and Suriname. Associate status allows participation in meetings of the bloc and trade preferences with MERCOSUR member countries.

MERCOSUR aims to promote a common market to generate business and investment through the integration of member countries’ economies. The integration process has resulted in a number of bilateral and multilateral agreements with other countries and organizations.

The main objectives of MERCOSUR are:

  • Free circulation of goods and services among member states through the elimination of customs tariffs and non-tariff restrictions;
  • Establishment of a common external tariff and the adoption of a common trade policy with respect to non-party states or blocs of states as well as the coordination of a common position in international and regional economic and trade forums;
  • Coordination of macroeconomic and sectoral policies by party states, such as agriculture, industrial, tax, monetary, foreign exchange, and capital markets, services, customs, transportation and communication, among others, in order to achieve a fair competition level among the member states;
  • Commitment by state parties to the harmonization of national legislation in the trade related areas in order to strengthen the integration process.

MERCOSUR official languages are Spanish, Guaraní and Portuguese.

MERCOSUR has its headquarters in Asunción, Paraguay.

MERCOSUR has its own emblem and flag.

In addition to the Asunción Treaty creating the MERCOSUR, the following instruments have been adopted, completing the foundational framework of MERCOSUR:

  • Protocolo de Ouro Preto, Dec. 17, 1994 (Adicional al Tratado de Asunción sobre la Estructura Institucional del MERCOSUR) providing for the institutional organization of MERCOSUR;


  • Protocolo de Ushuaia sobre Compromiso Democrático en el MERCOSUR, la República de Bolivia y la República de Chile, Jul. 24, 1998;


  • Protocolo de Olivos para la Solución de Controversias en el MERCOSUR, Feb. 18, 2002;


  • Protocolo de Asunción sobre Compromiso con la Promoción y Protección de los Derechos Humanos en el MERCOSUR, Jun. 20, 2005;


  • Protocolo Constitutivo del Parlamento del MERCOSUR, Dec. 9, 2005;


Some of the additional regulatory instruments include:

  • Protocolo de Cooperación y Asistencia Jurisdiccional en Materia Civil, Comercial, Laboral y Administrativa, Jun. 27, 1992;


  • Protocolo Relativo al Código Aduanero del Mercosur, Dec. 16, 1994;


  • Protocolo de Armonización de Normas sobre Propiedad. Intelectual en Materia de Marcas, Indicaciones de Procedencia y Denominaciones de Origen, Aug. 5, 1995;


  • Acuerdo de Arbitraje Comercial Internacional del MERCOSUR, Jul. 23, 1998;


  • Acuerdo para la Creación de un Área de Libre Comercio entre MERCOSUR y Sudáfrica, Dec. 15, 2000;


  • Acuerdo contra el Tráfico Ilicito de Migrantes entre los Estados Partes del MERCOSUR, la República de Bolivia y la República de Chile, Dec. 16, 2004;

Democracy and economic development are the pillars on which MERCOSUR is founded. In pursuit of these principles, MERCOSUR engages in programs that address a number of issues affecting the population of its member countries, such as human rights, health care, agriculture, gender, culture, education, and social matters.

MERCOSUR has a deliberative body, called Parlasur (Parliament of the MERCOSUR), a Tribunal Permanente de Revisión (Tribunal for the Settlement of Disputes) and its own financing fund, the Fondo para la Convergencia Estructural del MERCOSUR (Fund for the Structural Convergence) (FOCEM).

MERCOSUR covers a territory of almost 5.8 million square miles and a population of over 295 million people.

Bibliographic Resources

Library of Congress legal resources on MERCOSUR are available in the following languages:




Non-legal bibliographical resources on the MERCOSUR in the Library of Congress collection include:



Internet Resources

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