Havana Meeting (1940)

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Havana Meeting (1940)

Formally known as the Second Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, this gathering was held in Havana, Cuba, in July 1940. Its major concerns were the strengthening of the principle of hemispheric solidarity against acts of aggression and reciprocal assistance and cooperation for defense.

With the fall of France and the threatened dominion of Western Europe by Nazi Germany, governments of the American nations were concerned about the fate of the European colonies—particularly those of Great Britain—in the Caribbean. Based on the doctrine that American territories could not be transferred from one European power to another, the meeting declared that the possessions of Britain and any defeated European nations could not become German territory. The meeting adopted the Act of Havana concerning the Provisional Administration of European Colonies and Possessions in the Americas, which provided that the colonies would be controlled and administered by an inter-American force until the war's end, at which time they would become independent or returned to their original status. Exempt from this provision were the Malvinas/Falkland Islands and British Honduras (Belize). The Act of Havana also stated that "any attempt on the part of a non-American state against the integrity, sovereignty or political independence of an American state shall be considered an act of aggression against the states which sign this declaration." This agreement was the beginning of the mutual defense system that was reinforced by the Act of Chapultepec in 1945 and culminated in the Rio Treaty of 1947, which guaranteed reciprocity in defense, making an attack against one American state equivalent to an attack against all of the Americas. The meeting also adopted a series of resolutions strengthening the inter-American neutrality committee, promoting reciprocal assistance and cooperation for the defense of the American nations, and establishing the agenda for economic and financial cooperation between the American nations during the war.

See alsoWorld War II .


Cordell Hull, Achievements of the Second Meeting of Foreign Ministers of the American Republics (1940).

Pan American Union, The Meetings of Consultation: Their Origin, Significance, and Role in Inter-American Relations (1966).

Inter-American Institute Of International Legal Studies, The Inter-American System (1966).

Additional Bibliography

Leonard, Thomas, and John F. Bratzel. Latin America during World War II. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007.

Sheinin, David. Beyond the Ideal: Pan Americanism in Inter-American Affairs. Westport: Greenwood Press, 2000.

Vázquez García, Humberto. De Chapultepec a la OEA: Apogeo y crisis del panamericanismo. La Habana: Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, 2001.

                              James Patrick Kiernan

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