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Organization of American States

ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES

ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES (OAS; Organización de Los Estados Americanos) was established in 1948 following the Ninth International Conference of American States in Bogota, Colombia. The OAS succeeded the Union of American Republics and its secretariat, the Pan American Union, which had been set up in 1910. Twenty-one governments participated in the establishment of the OAS and ratified their membership in the organization in the 1950s. They were Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the United States of America, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

In 1962, because of its pro-Soviet leanings in the Cold War, the Cuban government was formally prevented from participating in OAS meetings and activities. However, the OAS charter had no provision by which a government could be expelled. This meant that Cuba retained its status as a de jure member. The former British Caribbean colonies of Barbados, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago joined the OAS in the 1960s. They were followed in the 1970s and 1980s by the additional former British Caribbean colonies of Dominica, Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, as well as by Suriname, formerly a Dutch colony. In the 1990s Canada and the former British colonies of Belize and Guyana joined the OAS.

The primary activity of the OAS, following its establishment in the early years of the Cold War, has been around issues of conflict resolution and collective security. Changes in orientation or emphasis over time are reflected in the four formal amendments to the Charter of the Organization of American States (COAS) since it was written in 1948. The first amendments, the 1967 Protocol of Buenos Aires, resulted from the desire of a number of governments in Latin America to enhance the social and economic provisions of the charter and weaken those provisions related to political and security questions, with which the United States was most concerned. In the 1970s the OAS also began to try to play a greater role in the protection of human rights. While not involving any changes to the COAS, this inclination led to the establishment of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in 1978.

The second set of amendments to COAS, the Protocol of Cartagena de Indias of 1985, involved a reaffirmation of the principle of nonintervention and the amplification of the role of the organization's secretary-general in negotiating peace settlements. This restatement of non-intervention was a response on the part of a number of members to the Falklands-Malvinas War in 1982, the U.S. invasion of Grenada in 1983, and U.S. activities directed at the government of Nicaragua in the 1980s. With the end of the Cold War, the OAS began also to place more emphasis on promoting democracy. For example, the Protocol of Washington in 1992 involved amending the original charter to strengthen the ability of the OAS to suspend a member country when its democratically elected government was "overthrown by force." The Protocol of Managua of 1993 involved a fourth series of amendments, which were aimed at enhancing the OAS's role in regional economic integration and development. This protocolled to the creation of the Inter-American Council for Integral Development (IACID) in 1996.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Sheinin, David. The Organization of American States. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 1996.

Stoetzer, O. Carlos. The Organization of American States. 2d ed. New York: Praeger, 1993.

Thomas, Christopher R., and Juliana T. Magloire. Regionalism versus Multilateralism: The Organization of American States in a Global Changing Environment. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2000.

Mark T.Berger

See alsoContra Aid ; Cuba, Relations with ; Grenada Invasion ; Latin America, Relations with ; Nicaragua, Relations with .

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Organization of American States

Organization of American States (OAS), international organization, created Apr. 30, 1948, at Bogotá, Colombia, by agreement of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela. Another 15 nations have subsequently joined. The status of permanent observer is now held by 62 additional states and the European Union. The OAS is a regional agency designed to work with the United Nations to promote peace, justice, and hemispheric solidarity; to foster economic development (especially during the 1960s; see Alliance for Progress); and to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the signatory nations. The general secretariat, formerly the Pan-American Union, located in Washington, D.C, is the permanent body of the OAS.

After 1948, the OAS council set out to enforce the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, known as the Rio Treaty (see also Pan-Americanism). The OAS has repeatedly opposed unilateral intervention in the affairs of member countries. However, the OAS did approve (1965) the U.S. intervention in the Dominican Republic's civil war, though it refused a similar action during the Nicaraguan revolution (1979). Among the many conflicts handled by the council were those between Costa Rica and Nicaragua (1948, 1949, and 1955), when the Nicaraguan regime of Anastasio Somoza was censured for aiding the attempted overthrow of the Costa Rican regime of José Figueres Ferrer; the conflicts between the Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo Molina and Haiti, Cuba, Guatemala, and Venezuela (1949, 1950, and 1960); the Panamanian-U.S. conflict over control of the Panama Canal in 1964; the Honduras–El Salvador dispute in 1969; elections in El Salvador amid civil war (1984, 1989); the Panamanian-U.S. conflict (1988, 1989) over the involvement in drug trafficking of the dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega, and subsequent U.S. invasion (1990); and the Haitian coup overthrowing President Jean Bertrand Aristide (1991, 1992).

A nearly five-decade issue for the OAS was its relationship with Cuba after the Cuban revolution (1959). In 1962, Cuba was formally suspended from the organization on charges of subversion. Two years later, a trade boycott was imposed on Cuba, but by the 1990s, practically all member nations except the United States had resumed trade and diplomatic relations with Cuba. In 2009, by which time the United States was the only American nation without relations with Cuba, the OAS's suspension of Cuba was ended, but Cuba, at least initially, rejected rejoining the OAS.

See studies by M. Ball (1969) and R. Scheman (1988).

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Organization of American States

Organization of American States (OAS) Organization of 35 member states of the Americas that promotes peaceful settlements to disputes, regional cooperation in the limitation of weapons, and economic and cultural development. The successor to the Pan-American Union, the OAS emerged out of a conference in Colombia in 1948. It is an affiliate of the United Nations (UN). Its headquarters are in Washington D.C.

http://www.oas.org

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Organization Of American States

Organization Of American States. See OAS.

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