Ordering Strategies: Latin American Participation in the Crafting of the Nuclear Order

We will discuss J. Luis Rodriguez' paper "Ordering Strategies: Latin American Participation in the Crafting of the Nuclear Order"

Speaker: J. Luis Rodriguez, Doctoral Candidate in the Political Science Department at The Johns Hopkins University

Respondent: James Cameron, Postdoctoral Fellow with the Oslo Nuclear Project

If you would like to participate in this online seminar, please register here. All participants will receive the paper and a Zoom invitation in advance.


During the 1960s, countries in the Global South shared common goals during the creation of nuclear arms controls: avoiding nuclear destruction and maintaining autonomy. Brazilian and Mexican authorities participated actively during the crafting of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), sharing these objectives. Given this common understanding, why did they have contrasting positions during the multilateral negotiations crafting this treaty? I argue that representatives from these countries had different positions due to their contrasting understanding of the liberal international order. Using original archival material, concepts developed by American Pragmatism, and republican security theory, I compare the actions of Brazilian and Mexican diplomats, the only two Latin American countries in the Eighteen Nations Disarmament Committee, during the NPT negotiations. I connect the nuclear positions of Brazilians and Mexican foreign-policy makers in the 1960s with theoretical questions about international order maintenance. 


I analyze the actions of representatives from these countries in the Tlatelolco and NPT negotiations to advance a theory of “ordering strategies.” Brazilian and Mexican representatives in the negotiations building nuclear arms controls used their success building a Latin American nuclear-free zone with the Tlatelolco Treaty to increase their influence and justify their actions during the NPT discussions. Mexican diplomats concluded that nuclear powers could institutionalize new hierarchies with the NPT, but, given that they saw the international order as helping their country, they were more collaborative with nuclear powers. Brazilian diplomats shared the Mexican conclusion about the NPT reinforcing hierarchies. Contrary to Mexican diplomats, Brazilian representatives were more defensive toward nuclear powers. They saw the NPT as yet another element in the international order limiting their plans to improve Brazilian international status.

Speaker bio

J. Luis Rodriguez is a Doctoral Candidate in the Political Science Department at The Johns Hopkins University. His research examines how developing countries contribute to designing solutions to global problems and how they influence international organizations and law, focusing on humanitarian, nuclear, and cyber governance. Through a mix of qualitative methods, he analyzes the influence of hierarchies in the development of the liberal international order, primarily on limits on the use of force in international law. He is the student liaison for Hopkins’ Latin America in a Globalizing World Initiative. Before joining the PhD program at Hopkins, Luis Rodriguez was a junior advisor to the Mexican Vice-Minister for Latin American Affairs, working on international security cooperation.

Respondent bio:

James Cameron is a postdoctoral fellow with the Oslo Nuclear Project, working on the Arms Control in Europe programme. He is the author of The Double Game: The Rise and Demise of America's First Missile Defense System (Oxford, 2017).

Published Nov. 20, 2020 12:21 PM - Last modified Nov. 20, 2020 12:21 PM