HAVANA, Jan. 29 (Xinhua) -- The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) has declared the region a nuclear-free zone, Cuban leader Raul Castro announced Wednesday on the final day of the summit in Havana.
Castro read out a statement highlighting the commitment of the CELAC's 33 member countries to establishing a "zone of peace" in the region in keeping with the principles of the United Nations Charter and International Law.
"I solemnly declare Latin America and the Caribbean as a zone of peace," said Castro, citing the eight-point CELAC proclamation.
The document reaffirms that "preserving peace is a substantial element of Latin American and Caribbean integration."
The countries reject "the use of force and non-legitimate means of defense, such as weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons in particular," in favor of "the peaceful resolution of conflicts." They also pledged to continue to promote nuclear disarmament as a "priority objective" in the region.
The members also agreed to non-intervention in the internal affairs of countries, with regard to sovereignty and "respect for the inalienable right of each state to choose its economic, political, social and cultural system, as an essential condition for ensuring peaceful coexistence among nations."
Castro called on CELAC countries to use the contents of the declaration to guide their decisions in international fora.
Late Wednesday, the summit participants are expected to sign the final Declaration of Havana and approve the bloc's 2014 Plan of Action, as well as some 30 different statements on issues affecting the region.
Cuba will then hand over the rotating presidency of the bloc to Costa Rica for the duration of the year.