“The proscription of nuclear weapons in Latin America, for the most part, is an enterprise in which Mexico has had the privilege of providing an extraordinarily valued contribution.” –Alfonso Garcia Robles A Mexican diplomat, politician and lawyer, Alfonso Garcia Robles is without a doubt one of Mexico’s most remarkable characters of diplomacy and law. He has made important contributions to the foundation of the United Nations (UN) and to the promulgation of the organization’s Charter in 1945.
He was born in Zamora, Michoacan, member of a family dedicated to Commerce. Robles completed his college studies in Mexico City where he obtained his major in Law from the National University of Mexico (UNAM). His interest in international law led him to finalize his studies in Europe. In 1936 he obtained an extraordinary award because of his thesis completed at the Institute for International Studies at the University of Paris. He continued his academic preparation by going to study in Holland. There he obtained his degree from the Academy of International Law at La Haya in 1938.
He returned to his Country in 1939. At that time, he entered into the Mexican diplomatic service. In October of that year he was sent to Stockholm as the third secretary of Mexico’s delegation. In 1941 he was appointed to the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs where he served as Subdirector of Political Affairs in the Diplomatic Service for five years.
As Secretary of International Affairs for the National Commission of Peace, Robles participated in diverse international meetings. The objective was to form the juridical basis for what was to become in 1945, once World War II concluded, what is now known as the United Nations.
During the first decade of UN operation, Garcia Robles was in charge of supervising international political affairs. This was the process established for conflict resolution and to ensure peaceful relations between the global organization and regional political entities.
He was the UN representative at the Bogota Conference in 1948 when the act creating the OAS was approved. During this stage of his life he met Juana Maria Szyszlo a young Peruvian official of the UN in New York. As destiny would have it she became his wife in 1950.
In 1957, the Mexican Government requested that Robles return home to become reinstated as Director of Affairs in Europe, Asia, and Africa as well as the head of International Organizations for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Robles was ambassador from Mexico in Brazil during the time span from 1961 to 1964. In 1970 he took charge of the Under Secretariat of Foreign Affairs. During this second period, he was responsible for multilateral affairs such as the duty for disarmament then being carried out by the UN.
He did this in the capacity as head of the delegation for his country and chief representative of the committee. He also chaired meetings for the denuclearization of Latin America celebrated after 1964 culminating with the signature of the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America (1967), also known as the Treaty of Tlatelolco.
In 1975 the Mexican Government again called on Robles, this time to occupy the Foreign Affairs Portfolio. This never kept him from his responsibilities and role in the international group. Since January of 1977, as a representative of Mexico in the UN, Robles participated in the Disarmament Committee of the UN based in Geneva. The experience that he had accumulated was worth being considered as a member of the specialized diplomatic corps for disarmament. And, in 1978, his record proved invaluable as the disarmament agreement from the First UN General Assembly was approved.
He was named Ambassador Emeriti in 1981, but one year later his career was crowned. Because of the intense activity that he contributed throughout his career in support of denuclearization and disarmament, he was awarded the 1982 Nobel Peace Prize. The Norwegian Parliament decided to give him this shared Prize with Alva Myrdal. During his career, Alfonso Garcia Robles published numerous works on the subject of diplomatic and geopolitical issues.
Alfonso Garcia Robles died September 4th, 1991, in Mexico City at the age of 80.