MERCOSUR is an economic and political bloc of South American States which has been compared to the European Union. It stands for el Mercado Común del Sur (the Common Market of the South).

MERCOSUR was founded by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay in 1991 under the Treaty of Asunción. The initial goal of MERCOSUR was to establish a common economic market. In 1998 it also created a political forum with the aim of establishing common positions and resolving issues affecting the region. The political mechanism was expanded in December 2006 with the creation of a common parliament. The parliament, which first met in May 2007, will serve as an advisory committee for full Member States.


Full members: Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, Venezuela’s full membership is pending.
Associate members: Chile, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru

The presidency of MERCOSUR rotates on a six-monthly basis between full members.

Child rights and MERCOSUR: Iniciativa Niñ@sur

Niñ@sur is an initiative of MERCOSUR which aims to promote national efforts in Member States to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The aims of Niñ@sur are:

  • To promote dialogue and share experiences among MERCOSUR States to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and improve children and young people’s lives in the region;
  • To encourage changes to internal legislation in compliance with international human rights instruments relating to children, such as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, in particular Article 4 of the Convention which commits States to making the budget allocations necessary for advancing child rights. This includes creating a legal database containing relevant national laws and their degree of compliance with relevant international instruments;
  • To encourage coordination between States on thematic issues including sexual exploitation, trafficking, child pornography, child labour, and migrant workers and their families;
  • To promote regional meetings with relevant authorities on human and child rights, with the aim of institutionalising these issues within MERCOSUR’s political and social agenda;

Other non-State actors are also involved in the initiative. International and regional bodies such as UNICEF, UNDP, the Organization of American States and Inter-American Commission on Human Rights offer technical assistance. In addition, one of the current members of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, which monitors the Convention’s implementation, Rosa María Ortiz, is from Paraguay. Civil society organisations may also contribute their experiences and observations.

Children's rights advocates and civil society

The presidency rotates between Member States every six months. Children's rights networks in these countries also rotate coordination of lobbying according to which country holds the presidency. They inform organisations in the other countries about what is going on, any deadlines and joint submissions required. Although the agenda is State-led, civil society organisations have succeeded in lobbying for a short space at the end to make a statement.

Niñ@sur documents

Recommendations on the rights of, and assistance for children and young people, who have been victims of trafficking or sexual exploitation (in Spanish).