OAS August 2003

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August 2003

Official Name:
Organization of American States

Editor's note: The information for this article is reprinted from OAS: Background Information available through the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs of the U.S. Department of State.

January 13, 2004


Established: April 14, 1890, as the International Union of American Republics. Became the Pan American Union in 1910, then the Organization of American States in 1948 with the adoption of the OAS Charter in Bogota, Colombia.

Purposes: To strengthen peace and security in the hemisphere; promote representative democracy; ensure the peaceful settlement of disputes among members; provide for common action in the event of aggression; and promote economic, social, and cultural development.

Members: 35--Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba*, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, the United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

*Cuba is a member, although its present government has been excluded from participation since 1962 for incompatibility with the principles of the OAS Charter.

Permanent observers: 56 -- Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, European Union, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, the Holy See, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Latvia, Lebanon, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and Yemen.

Official languages: English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish.

Principal organs: General Assembly; Meeting of Consultation of Foreign Ministers; Permanent Council; Inter-American Council for Integral Development (CIDI); Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR); and the General Secretariat.

Specialized organizations: Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM); Inter-American Children's Institute (IIN); Inter-American Indian Institute (IAII); Pan American Institute of Geography and History (PAIGH); Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA); and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

Other Entities: Inter-American Agency for Cooperation and Development (IACD), Inter-American Court of Human Rights; Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD); Justice Studies Center; Inter-American Juridical Committee (IAJC); Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism (CICTE); Inter-American Defense Board (IADB); Inter-American Defense College (IADC); Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL); Inter-American Development Bank (IDB); the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF).

Budget (2002): Regular fund (operations): $76.0 million, financed mainly by assessed contributions from all members. The U.S. share is 59%. Voluntary funds: $8.4 million, financed by contributions from all member states (the U.S. provided $5.5 million). Specific funds--$52 million, contributed by some member states (the U.S. provided $25 million), some permanent observers, international financial institutions, and development agencies.


The Organization of American States, the oldest regional international organization in the world, traces its origins to the Congress of Panama, convoked by Simon Bolivar in 1826 and attended by representatives from Central and South America. That congress drafted the Treaty of Perpetual Union, League and Confederation, signed by the delegates but ratified only by Gran Colombia (today's Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, and Venezuela).

Hemispheric countries continued the discussion of an inter-American system during the rest of the 19th century. The first concrete step was taken in 1889, when the First International Conference of American States convened in Washington, DC. On April 14, 1890, delegates created the International Union of American Republics "for the prompt collection and distribution of commercial information." They also established the Commercial Bureau of the American Republics in Washington as the Union's secretariat, with the participation of 18 Western Hemisphere nations, including the United States. In 1910, the Commercial Bureau became the Pan American Union, and American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie donated $5 million to construct a permanent headquarters in Washington, DC, which is today the OAS building.

The experience of World War II convinced hemispheric governments that unilateral action could not ensure the territorial integrity of the American nations in the event of extra-continental aggression. To meet the challenges of global conflict in the postwar world and to contain conflicts within the hemisphere, they adopted a system of collective security, the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (Rio Treaty) signed in 1947 in Rio de Janeiro.

The OAS Charter was adopted at the Ninth International Conference of American States in Bogota, Colombia, in 1948. It reaffirmed the fundamental rights and duties of states, proclaimed the goals of the new organization, and established its organs and agencies. That conference also approved the American Treaty on Pacific Settlement (Pact of Bogota) and the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man. The OAS Charter proclaims the organization to be a regional agency within the UN system.

The basic objectives of the OAS, as laid out in its Charter, are to:

  • strengthen peace and security;
  • promote the effective exercise of representative democracy;
  • ensure the peaceful settlement of disputes among members;
  • provide for common action in the event of aggression;
  • seek solutions to political, juridical, and economic problems that may arise;
  • promote, by cooperative action, economic, social, educational, scientific, and cultural development; and
  • limit conventional weapons so as to devote greater resources to economic and social development.

Concern over slow economic development led the United States and 19 other OAS members to establish the Inter-American Development Bank in 1959. This reflected concern that the World Bank, which included Latin American countries in its list of eligible borrowers, was preoccupied with infrastructure and not sufficiently attuned to the need for "social" lending as well as industrial and agricultural aid. In 1960, the OAS adopted the Act of Bogota, which called for a hemisphere-wide commitment to economic and social development. This set the stage for OAS support for the Alliance for Progress.

The 1948 OAS Charter has been amended four times:

  • by the 1967 Protocol of Buenos Aires, which went into effect in February 1970;
  • by the 1985 Protocol of Cartagena, which took effect in November 1988;
  • by the 1993 Protocol of Managua, which took effect in March 1996; and
  • by the 1992 Protocol of Washington, which took effect in September 1997.

The Buenos Aires Protocol created the annual General Assembly and gave equal status to the Permanent Council; the Economic and Social Council; and the Council for Education, Science, and Culture. The Cartagena Amendments strengthened the role of the Secretary General; provided procedures to facilitate peaceful settlement of disputes; removed obstacles, involving border disputes, to the entry of Belize and Guyana; and called for strengthening economic and social development by taking measures to increase trade, enhance international financial cooperation, diversify exports, and promote export opportunities.

The Managua Protocol created the Inter-American Council for Integral Development (CIDI) to replace the Economic and Social Council and the Council for Education, Science, and Culture. The key objectives of CIDI are to serve as a forum for technical policy level discussions on matters related to development, to be a catalyst and promoter of development activities in response to mandates from the Summits of the Americas, and to strengthen a hemispheric partnership among OAS countries to promote cooperation for development and to help eliminate extreme poverty in the hemisphere.

Ratification of the Washington Protocol made the OAS the first regional political organization to permit suspension of a member whose democratically constituted government is overthrown by force. This protocol also amended the Charter to include the eradication of extreme poverty as one of the organization's essential purposes.

The OAS helps preserve democracy by mobilizing the hemisphere in the face of threats to democratic rule. It acted under the mandate of General Assembly Resolution 1080 (1991) to support democracy in Haiti, Peru, Guatemala, and Paraguay. It also provides development and other assistance designed to strengthen democratic institutions, observe elections, promote human rights, increase trade, fight drugs, and protect the environment.

On September 11, 2001, the OAS adopted the Inter-American Democratic Charter, de signed to strengthen and preserve representative democracy in the hemisphere, which prescribes steps to be taken in the event of an unconstitutional interruption of the democratic order or the unconstitutional alteration of the constitutional regime that seriously impairs the democratic order of a member state. In April 2002, the OAS took action under the Inter-American Democratic Charter to support democracy in Venezuela, which continued through May 2003.

The OAS was the first international organization to condemn the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. In 2001-02, as a hemispheric response against terrorism, OAS members successfully negotiated the Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism, which was opened for signature at the June 2002 OAS General Assembly. It entered into force on July 9, 2003 and provides for increased law enforcement cooperation against terrorism.

In recent years, OAS member states have successfully negotiated major international agreements to curb hemispheric arms trafficking, provide for transparency in conventional weapons acquisition, combat corruption, fight narcotics and money laundering, and define fair telecommunications standards. OAS contributions in the fields of international law, juridical cooperation, and facilitation of regional trade have been substantial and have provided the basis for effective observance of a host of regional treaties concluded since 1889. Information on treaties and other inter-American legal issues is available from the Secretariat of Legal Affairs at the OAS Internet home page at http://www.oas.org.

The OAS is implementing important portions of the Action Plans from the Summits of the Americas held in Miami (1994), Santiago, Chile (1998), and Quebec City, Canada (2001). Drafting and signing the Inter-American Democratic Charter marked the first Quebec City summit mandate to be implemented. The Santiago Summit assigned the OAS Secretariat responsibility for maintaining records and serving as the institutional memory of the summit process, which will continue as Mexico hosts a Special Summit in late 2003 or early 2004. Argentina will host the fourth Summit of the Americas in 2005. The OAS Secretariat maintains an Internet home page for summit activities at http://www.summit-americas.org.


The United States is committed to strengthening and working with the OAS. This reflects the U.S. Government's determination to make optimal use of multilateral diplomacy to resolve regional problems and to engage its neighbors on topics of hemispheric concern. As President George W. Bush said in a speech at the OAS on April 17, 2001.

"The OAS has an important role to play in these common goals. In lands where liberty is threatened by corruption, drugs and human rights abuses, the OAS is helping combat these destructive forces. Along borders where tensions run high, the OAS helps build confidence and avoid crises. And in lands where freedom's hold is fragile, the OAS is there to strengthen it."

The OAS is the premier multilateral forum for dealing with political issues in the Western Hemisphere. Participation in the organization enables the United States to rally international support for key U.S. political objectives. In addition to its work to strengthen and promote democracy and respect for human rights, the OAS provides valuable support on two highly important issues: trade and drugs. The OAS has refocused its trade efforts to promote free trade and economic integration. Its Trade Unit and the Foreign Trade Information System (SICE) provide valuable technical support to the working groups dealing with the creation of a hemispheric free trade area, to which OAS governments committed themselves at the Summits of the Americas.

The Inter-American Democratic Charter is the focal point of OAS efforts to maintain, support, strengthen, and defend democracy in the Western Hemisphere. As Secretary of State Colin L. Powell told the OAS General Assembly on June 9, 2003

"The Inter-American Democratic Charter we adopted nearly two years ago in Lima is the purest expression of our common conviction that democracy is the only legitimate form of government and that our people deserve nothing less."

The OAS has successfully reformed its operations to be more effective, both by significant staff cuts and position level realignments, and by restructuring the Secretariat to deal with the hemisphere's new priorities. The OAS has decreased its staff by 20% since 1995 and maintained a nogrowth budget for 7 consecutive years. Despite these constraints, the OAS has augmented programs supporting priority interests of the hemisphere, such as democracy, human rights, trade, and the environment, by reducing or eliminating programs of lower priority. More reforms are envisioned in the areas of personnel evaluation, budgetary priorities, financial management, and conference capabilities.

OAS and U.S. Officials

Secretary General: Cesar Gaviria Trujillo (Colombia), elected to a second 5-year term in 1999

Assistant Secretary General: Luigi R. Einaudi (U.S.), elected to a 5-year term in 2000

Address: Organization of American States
17th St. and Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20006
(tel. 202-458-3000)
Internet: http://www.oas.org

U.S. Permanent Representative to the OAS: Ambassador John F. Maisto, sworn in July 31, 2003.

Address: U.S. Permanent Mission to
the OAS
WHA/USOAS, Rm. 5914
U.S. Department of State
Washington, DC 20520
(tel. 202-647-9376)


The promotion of peace and democracy are core OAS concerns. The OAS Unit for Promotion of Democracy (UPD) is entirely dedicated to building, strengthening, and preserving democracy. Charter amendments, the new Inter-American Democratic Charter, and Resolution 1080 also enable the OAS to help preserve democracy by mobilizing the hemisphere in the face of threats to democratic rule in a member state.

The 1991 OAS General Assembly created an unprecedented automatic mechanism, known as Resolution 1080, to deter illegal action against democratically elected governments. This resolution requires the Secretary General to convene the Permanent Council and then hemispheric foreign ministers within 10 days after a coup or other interruption of a legitimate, elected government. Resolution 1080 has been used four times--following the coup in Haiti in 1991, the "auto-coups" in Peru in 1992 and Guatemala in 1993, and the threat to the Government of Paraguay in 1996.

The Inter-American Democratic Charter defines the essential elements of representative democracy in very specific terms, including: respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms; holding free and fair elections; a pluralistic system of political parties and organizations; separation of powers; independence of the branches of government; freedom of expression and of the press; and constitutional subordination of all state institutions to the legally constituted civilian authority.

In the event that one of the OAS members should fail to uphold the essential elements of democratic life, the document allows any member state or the Secretary General to trigger a response by the OAS, calling for the immediate convocation of the Permanent Council to consider the facts, deploy diplomatic efforts, or use other political mediation. If there is a clear interruption of democratic order, or if an undemocratic alteration is not remedied, the document calls for a General Assembly that may, among other things, suspend the offending government from the inter-American system, which requires a two-thirds vote of the member states.

The first formal use of the Inter-American Democratic Charter occurred in April 2002, when Secretary General Gaviria invoked Article 20 of the Charter to convoke the Permanent Council to perform a collective assessment of the situation in Venezuela, The Permanent Council condemned the alteration of constitutional order and convened a special session of the General Assembly under the Democratic Charter on April 18, 2002.

At that meeting, OAS foreign ministers agreed upon a resolution using the provisions of the Democratic Charter for the purpose of reinforcing democratic institutions in Venezuela. It calls upon the Venezuelan government to respect the essential elements of representative democracy and the rule of law while redoubling its efforts toward national dialogue and national reconciliation. The resolution focuses a regional spotlight on the state of Venezuela's democratic institutions and procedures, while pledging the OAS's continued attention and support. The OAS Secretary General formed a Group of Friends (Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Spain, Portugal and the United States) to assist him in dealing with the Venezuelan government and the opposition Democratic Coordinating Committee (CD). On May 29, 2002 the Government and the CD signed the OAS dialogue table agreement, setting the framework for a recall referendum as allowed by the Venezuelan constitution, and replacing the dialogue table with a "permanent liaison" mechanism.

In recent years, the existence of Resolution 1080 and the Washington Protocol (that permits suspension of a member whose democratically elected government is overthrown by force) has enabled the OAS to bring hemispheric pressure to bear in situations where democratic governments were threatened, and the OAS successfully encouraged constitutional solutions in a number of problematic circumstances.

The OAS intervened quickly after indications of potential coups or other challenges to democracy in several Latin American countries, by dispatching Secretary General Gaviria and passing strong resolutions in the Permanent Council. The new Inter-American Democratic Charter provides the OAS with a "toolbox" of preventive and remedial measures that it can use to reinforce democratic institutions throughout the Hemisphere.

In Peru, President Fujimori's April 5, 1992 announcement of extra-constitutional measures led to the second use of Resolution 1080. The OAS Permanent Council called for the immediate "reinstatement of democratic institutions and respect for human rights under the rule of law." The hemisphere's foreign ministers met on April 13, called for the reestablishment of democratic institutional order in Peru, and asked the Secretary General to head a small mission of foreign ministers to Peru to bring about a dialogue between the government and other political forces.

In May 1992, President Fujimori attended the OAS foreign ministers' meeting on Peru, held in the Bahamas, where he undertook to call elections for a constituent congress to exercise legislative powers and to draft a new constitution. The OAS sent over 200 observers to monitor those elections, held November 22, 1992, as well as a small team for the municipal elections on January 29, 1993. OAS foreign ministers closed their meeting on Peru in December 1992, in view of expected continued OAS assistance to modernize electoral procedures in Peru.

Following the flawed April 2000 elections in Peru, the OAS General Assembly took action in response to the political crisis in that country. OAS election monitoring mission head Eduardo Stein reported that the elections had not been carried out in accordance with international standards. In June the OAS foreign ministers concluded that "the credibility of both the process and the outcome of those elections has been undermined by persisting reports of irregularities" and agreed to send OAS Secretary General Gaviria and Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy to Peru to establish a dialogue on reforming the country's democratic institutions.

The OAS mission met with government officials, members of the opposition, and civil society representatives in late June and developed 29 recommendations intended to craft a road-map for national reform and the restoration of fair electoral procedures, the judiciary, and a free press.

President Fujimori first agreed to hold new elections and later resigned. The momentum established by the OAS dialogue helped open the way to new elections and a return to democracy. Free and fair elections were held in April and June 2001, and the OAS provided expertise to the national electoral authorities and sent observation groups to monitor the elections.

The OAS is one of the leading organizations in the hemisphere in election observation. Representing a multilateral organization, OAS observers are often able to establish closer relationships with and gain greater access to political and electoral institutions than other observer groups. The OAS, in addition, has the institutional capacity to organize larger electoral missions and keep observers on the ground longer than other organizations.

The 1990 Nicaraguan elections were the first observed by the OAS in a systematic way. OAS monitoring of that election helped increase confidence in the process and encouraged all parties to accept the final results. While the OAS, at the request of the host government concerned, had previously sent small teams of elections observers throughout the hemisphere, the magnitude and scope of the mission in Nicaragua--more than 433 observers and an OAS presence six months before the elections and for weeks afterward--pointed to a need to institutionalize OAS support for democracy.

In 2003 the OAS sent or plans to send electoral observation missions to Argentina, Paraguay, Guatemala, and Venezuela. These missions, comprised of experienced observers from many countries and equipped with the ability to conduct "quick counts" on Election Day, render impartial judgments widely accepted by voters and governments throughout the hemisphere.

The OAS established the Unit for Promotion of Democracy (UPD) in 1990. In addition to overseeing the organization's electoral missions, the UPD also administers small country programs to improve democratic institutions and processes in response to requests from more than a dozen member states. These programs seek to improve democratic governance, for example, by facilitating the dissemination and exchange of knowledge about democratic values and political systems and the exchange of experiences among institutions and experts on themes related to the promotion of democracy. The UPD provides advice and assistance in modernizing or reforming electoral laws, civil registries, administrations, and processes. The UPD also develops and manages peace-building programs and provides support to societies in post-conflict situations. It supports programs of humanitarian demining in Central America and the Andean region and provides special advisory services and support to recently installed governments. The UPD's Internet homepage is at http://www.oas.org/upd.

Another means of strengthening democracy is the Justice Studies Center of the Americas, established by the November 1999 Special General Assembly. This center fulfills an important goal of the 1998 Santiago Summit and is the result of close consultations among Ministers of Justice, Attorneys General, and others interested in this initiative. The Center is located in Chile, and its primary task is to promote reform in the justice sector throughout the hemisphere, focusing in the first stage on criminal justice issues.


OAS Foreign Ministers were meeting in Lima, Peru, on September 11, 2001 to adopt and sign the new Inter-American Democratic Charter. Their response to the terrorist attacks was an immediate condemnation and a focus on a united hemispheric response. They met again in Washington, DC on September 21, 2001 to approve a resolution calling on member states to take effective measures to combat terrorism. At Brazil's initiative, the 22 signatories of the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, known as the Rio Treaty, met and declared that an attack against one member is an attack against all and committed themselves to providing mutual assistance in the war against terrorism. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell told the assembled ministers:

"We, the united democracies of the Western Hemisphere, join the world in the global campaign against terrorism. We have pledged to deny terrorists and their networks the ability to operate within our territories. We have resolved to hold to account all those responsible for aiding, financing, and otherwise supporting and harboring terrorists."

The Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism (CICTE), reinvigorated in the wake of the September 11 attacks, met in Washington, DC on January 28-29, 2002, where Attorney General John Ashcroft headed the U.S. delegation. Delegates approved a work plan for CICTE to coordinate steps to prevent and combat terrorism in the hemisphere and action plans on border controls and control of financial flows. CICTE is chaired by the United States and is staffed by personnel provided by member countries; funding is provided by contributions from member states and permanent observers. The OAS secretariat provides administrative support to CICTE.

OAS members began negotiation of the text of the Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism in November 2001, and a text was agreed upon in March 2002. Opened for signature in June 2002, the OAS convention entered into force on July 9, 2003, 30 days after the sixth signatory deposited its instrument of ratification. It is presently before the U.S. Senate for its advice and consent to ratification. The OAS convention enhances hemispheric security by improving regional cooperation in the fight against terrorism, by denying safe haven to terrorists, and by facilitating the exchange of information, technical assistance, and training in a wide number of complex areas, including the prevention and eradication of terrorist financing, the improvement of border and customs controls, and the prevention, investigation, and prosecution of terrorist acts.


In 1991, the 21st OAS General Assembly began examining security issues ranging from proliferation and arms transfers to "cooperation for hemispheric security." In 1995 the 25th General Assembly instructed the Permanent Council to establish the Committee on Hemispheric Security, which created the region's first permanent forum for the consideration of arms control, defense, nonproliferation, and security issues. The Committee on Hemispheric Security is composed of 34 member states and has a chairman and two vice-chairs that are elected for a 12-month period.

Since 1991, the OAS has built an impressive record of achievement in the development of confidence- and security-building measures (CSBMs). These security accomplishments include the March 1994 Buenos Aires governmental experts' meeting on CSBMs (the first regional dialogue on CSBMs), the November 10, 1995, "Declaration of Santiago on Confidence and Security Building Measures," the February 1998 Declaration of San Salvador," the "2003 Miami Declaration on Confidence and Security Building Measures" a regional roster of CSBMs Experts, the world's first Register of Antipersonnel Landmines (APL), and two path-breaking conventions -- The 1999 Inter-American Convention on Transparency in Conventional Weapons Acquisition, which entered into force in November, 2002, and the 1998 Inter-American Convention Against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Other Related Materials. In 2002-03, OAS member states undertook a comprehensive review of the hemispheric security architecture, culminating in a Special Conference on Security, to take place in Mexico in October 2003.

In 1999 the OAS adopted the landmark Inter-American Convention on Transparency in Conventional Weapons Acquisition. In 1997 the OAS drafted and approved the world's first convention to regulate the international trade in firearms and prevent their diversion into criminal hands.

In border conflict situations, the existence of the OAS and the possibility it might take action tend to have a chilling effect on any unilateral resort to force. For example, from 1999 to 2003, the OAS, with technical support from PAIGH, has provided cartographers, facilitators, conciliators, offered its good offices, and brokered agreements to resolve disputes between Belize and Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Nicaragua, and El Salvador and Honduras.

The OAS has been involved in many conflict resolution and national reconciliation activities, including:


OAS election monitoring in Nicaragua contributed decisively to the fairness of the February 25, 1990 elections, which brought a historic defeat of the Sandinista regime by democratic opposition candidate Violeta Barrios de Chamorro.

The presence of impartial OAS observers throughout the registration and balloting gave voters confidence and assured that the results would be respected. The OAS also monitored the 1996 elections that saw a successful transition from one elected president to the next. During the 1989-90 election process, the OAS and the UN set up the Joint Verification and Support Commission (CIAV) called for by the Central American presidents to verify compliance with the Central American peace accords. Under CIAV auspices, the OAS assisted more than 100,000 people (former combatants and their families) and monitored and sought to protect their human rights. In response to a Nicaraguan Government request, the June 1993 General Assembly extended CIAV activities and expanded its mandate to include all displaced persons and former members of the Nicaraguan army. Months later, CIAV played a leading role in obtaining the release of hostages taken by rebel groups in two separate but simultaneous incidents. At the request of the newly elected government, CIAV was extended through mid-1997.


A February 23, 1992, agreement signed in Washington called for the deployment of an OAS civilian presence in Haiti to facilitate the restoration of democracy in that island nation. Further talks in September 1992 resulted in the deployment to Haiti of a small civilian mission tasked with working with democratic institutions in the country.

That presence was greatly expanded when former Argentine Foreign Minister Dante Caputo, serving as a special envoy of the OAS and the UN, attained agreement for a joint OAS/UN International Civilian Mission (ICM). In 1993-94, the OAS deployed more than 100 human rights monitors throughout Haiti, with permanent offices in each of Haiti's nine provinces. They, with a small number of UN observers, investigated and reported on incidents of abuse of human rights and also carried out civic education programs. Their presence eased tensions, particularly in rural areas.

The OAS also observed the 1995 elections in Haiti, the first time in that country's history that one elected president succeeded another. The OAS observation mission during the May 21, 2000, parliamentary elections detected serious flaws in vote counting and other aspects of the election.

For over a year, the OAS worked to help Haiti resolve the political crisis that ensued from the flawed elections. In January 2002, evoking the spirit of the recently signed Inter-American Democratic Charter, the Permanent Council adopted a resolution designed to strengthen Haitian democracy and calling on the government of Haiti to take a series of six specific steps to restore a climate of security necessary for resuming political dialogue. It called for a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the violence surrounding the events of December 17, 2001, and deployed a 15- to 20-person mission to assist Haiti in four areas: Security, administration of justice, human rights, and governance.

On September 4, 2002 the Permanent Council adopted Resolution 822, which reaffirmed both the commitments of the Government of Haiti under previous OAS resolutions and new commitments, especially those related to holding free, fair and technically feasible legislative and local elections, to developing a disarmament plan and ensuring a climate of security essential for those elections, and the formation of an autonomous, independent, credible, and neutral Provisional Electoral Council. In addition, Resolution 822 strengthened the role of the Special Mission in overseeing that those commitments were met. During 2003, however, the Haitian government failed to meet its commitments under the OAS resolutions, which barred progress toward a democratic resolution of the political impasse in Haiti. An OAS/Caribbean Community delegation visited Haiti in March and delivered a clear message to the government as to the actions it needs to take. The June 2003 General Assembly approved a resolution reaffirming Resolution 822 and requiring the OAS Secretary General to prepare an assessment in September of the Special Mission's ability to fulfill its mandates, in order that the Permanent Council might make appropriate adjustments to those mandates.


Located in Washington, DC, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is distinguished from other multilateral organizations' human rights entities by its political autonomy. Its seven commission members are elected in their own right, not as representatives of governments. IACHR autonomy is further enhanced by its prerogative to initiate human rights investigations without the approval of the Secretary General or the Permanent Council. In response to a Santiago Summit initiative, in 1998 the IACHR established a Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, with a mandate to support and promote freedom of the press.

Human rights in the inter-American system are based on the 1948 American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man and the 1969 American Convention on Human Rights. The United States signed the American Convention on Human Rights in 1977, but has not yet ratified it.

The IACHR and Inter-American Court of Human Rights -- located in San Jose, Costa Rica -- give the OAS an active and, at times, forceful role in promoting and protecting human rights. Through private persuasion and published reports on human rights infringements, the IACHR has been instrumental in improving OAS members' human rights practices and has helped to resolve conflicts. The IACHR's annual report has chapters on human rights problems in general, details regarding individual cases, and country status reports. The IACHR also publishes special reports, which have been effective in challenging abuses in specific countries. From 1990-94, special on-site reports on Haiti kept the international spotlight focused on the dire human rights situation there and were praised by local and international organizations. The IACHR played a key role in the 1989 release of almost 2,000 political prisoners held by the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua. In 1999, on the 30th anniversary of the American Declaration, the OAS and member states began an evaluation of the inter-American human rights system to determine how best to further strengthen it.

As of early 2003, the IACHR's membership is: Chairman: Juan E. Mendez (Argentina); First Vice-Chair: Marta Altolaguirre (Guatemala); First Vice-Chair: Jose Zalaquett Daher (Chile); Clare Kamau Roberts (Antigua-Barbuda); Susana Villaran de la Puente (Peru); Julio Prado Vallejo (Ecuador); and Robert K.

Goldman (U.S.). In January 2004, Freddy Gutierrez (Venezuela), Evelio Fernandez Aravalos (Paraguay), and Florentin Melendez (El Salvador) will replace Mendez, Altolaguirre, and Goldman. The IACHR's Internet homepage is at http://www.oas.org/cidh.


The 1994 Miami Summit of the Americas plan of action charged the OAS with finding a hemispheric approach to fight corruption. The Inter-American Convention Against Corruption, negotiated under OAS auspices during 1995-96, is the world's first comprehensive multilateral anticorruption agreement. The Convention entered into force on March 6, 1997, when Paraguay and Bolivia became the first countries to deposit their instruments of ratification. A total of 29 countries, including the United States, have now ratified or acceded to the Convention. The Convention provides for institutional development and enforcement of anticorruption measures by fostering mutual legal assistance, technical cooperation, extradition, and seizure of assets. The OAS Permanent Council's Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs has a Probity and Ethics Working Group that focuses on promoting effective implementation of the Convention.

The OAS Department of Legal Affairs carries out activities, including workshops funded by the U.S., to assist member states in developing the preventive measures provided for in the Convention. Government experts met to develop a monitoring mechanism for the Convention; in May 2002 the Committee of Experts approved a questionnaire and the timetable for the first round of evaluations of country performance under the Convention. In 2003 the Follow-up Mechanism to monitor implementation of the convention by the states parties to it began its first round of country reviews with publication of the first report on Argentina. Subsequent reports on Colombia, Nicaragua and Paraguay are under preparation. Twenty-seven OAS Member States, including the U.S., are parties to the Follow-up Mechanism.


The OAS narcotics program was launched at the Inter-American Specialized Conference on Traffic in Narcotic Drugs in April 1986 -- the first Western Hemisphere meeting to deal with all aspects of the drug problem. In accordance with the program of action adopted at that meeting, the OAS General Assembly in November 1986 created the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD), which meets twice a year to direct the program and assess the drug situation in the hemisphere. Originally composed of 11 member governments, the commission has been expanded to 34 because of growing interest in the program and concern about the drug problem. The first projects were implemented in 1988. The program has identified five priority lines of action--development of domestic and international law, establishment of an inter-American drug information system, demand reduction, alternative development, and strengthening national drug commissions. CICAD maintains an Internet home page at http://www.cicad.oas.org.

In 1996 the OAS produced a counternarcotics strategy to guide collective actions in the 21st century, and in 1999 it established a multilateral evaluation mechanism (MEM), as mandated by the Santiago Summit of the Americas. Under the MEM, experts evaluate individual country submissions documenting efforts to combat drug abuse and trafficking; the first full round of evaluations was published in January 2003,. The OAS also has produced internationally acclaimed model legislation on precursor chemicals and money laundering control.


The Inter-American Council for Integral Development (CIDI) was created in 1996 when the Protocol of Managua charter amendments entered into force. CIDI replaced the Inter-American Economic and Social Council (CIES) and the Inter-American Council for Education, Science, and Culture (CIECC). CIDI is responsible for coordinating OAS development and technical cooperation activities in a partnership intended to attract financial support from donor countries, international development institutions, and other sources. CIDI's Permanent Executive Committee (CEPCIDI); the Inter-American Committee on Sustainable Development (CIDS); the Inter-American Committee on Science and Technology (COMCYT); the Inter-American Committee on Ports (CIP), and other committees and ministerial-level meetings and their subgroups provide guidance and evaluation to the OAS secretariat on relevant policies, projects, and other activities. They also bring together technical and policy-making officials from the hemisphere to agree on joint priorities and initiatives.

On November 15, 1999, a Special General Assembly adopted the Statute of the Inter-American Agency for Cooperation and Development (IACD). Created as the result of a U.S. initiative, the IACD will maximize use of existing resources, improve the management and delivery of technical cooperation, and better position the OAS to attract additional external resources to finance technical cooperation. The IACD's management board, composed of nine elected member states, provides operational guidance, while policy guidance comes from CIDI in both its annual and sectoral ministerial level meetings, from CIDI's executive committee and subsidiary bodies. IACD's statutes entered into force on January 1, 2000. On April 25, 2003, OAS member governments elected Argentina, Barbados, Canada, El Salvador, the United States, Grenada, Guatemala, Peru, and St. Lucia to the management board.

In April 2000, CIDI confirmed Ronald Scheman (U.S.) as the first Director General of IACD. Information about CIDI is available on the Internet at http://www.cidi.oas.org/cidi.asp.

CIDI's Special Multilateral Fund, known by its Spanish acronym FEMCIDI, is composed of the voluntary contributions of the member states. While a member state is free to decide the level of its commitment, once a pledge is made to this fund, the country is legally obligated to pay the amount pledged, and a country is not allowed to request projects unless it has pledged by the deadline established.

The projects presented must receive a favorable evaluation (conducted by outside experts) in order to be considered for funding. Projects chosen to be funded are those that receive the highest evaluation scores within their individual sectoral accounts. Horizontal cooperation funds (provided by Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and the U.S.) provide further assistance to lesser-developed and smaller economies.

The OAS Scholarships and Training Program awards an average of 360 graduate fellowships each year. There also is a small undergraduate scholarship program, available only to students from Caribbean and Central American nations. A third program finances travel to training courses offered by member states. Although these scholarships have to date been financed by the OAS Regular Fund (assessed quota payments by member states), a Capital Fund for Scholarships and Training has been established to attract outside funding.

For 25 years, the OAS has helped member states incorporate environmental considerations into development projects. International development institutions have recognized the organization's in-house expertise and leadership role, and a number of these institutions have undertaken cooperative initiatives with the OAS or contracted the organization to serve as an executing agency for their environmental projects. The biggest boost for the OAS' environmental efforts came at the 1996 Summit of the Americas on Sustainable Development, held in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. The Santa Cruz Declaration and Plan of Action gave the OAS a strong mandate to coordinate follow-up to those decisions. At the policy level, this takes place through the Inter-American Committee on Sustainable Development (CIDS), a meeting of government officials within the framework of CIDI. At the technical level, this occurs in the Inter-Agency Task Force, a group of representatives of technical cooperation agencies such as the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, UN programs, and U.S. and Canadian aid and environmental agencies. The OAS Secretariat's Unit for Sustainable Development and the Environment has a webpage at http://www.oas.org/usde; the Unit for Science and Technology has one at http://www.redhucyt.oas.org/ocyt.

The OAS Secretariat, working with member states and with a wide variety of civil society organizations from throughout the hemisphere developed the Inter-American Strategy for the Promotion of Public Participation in Decision-making for Sustainable Development in response to an initiative from the Bolivia summit. This strategy, approved in April 2000, lays out recommendations and examples of ways for governments to consult with civil society on key development efforts. It is based on three years of pilot projects, studies and consultation throughout the hemisphere. Other Bolivia Summit initiatives the OAS is helping to implement include the Inter-American Biodiversity Information Network (IABIN) and the Inter-American Forum on Environmental Law (FIDA). IABIN brings together government experts and representatives from civil society and nongovernmental organizations to share electronically species population data and to cooperate in specific projects. FIDA, a network on environmental law and enforcement, will focus initially on studies and information exchange on legal aspects of water policy and of trade, investment, and the environment.

The 1999 OAS General Assembly created a committee on civil society participation to develop mechanisms to accredit representatives from civil society and non-governmental organizations in OAS activities. The committee completed a set of guidelines, which the Permanent Council approved in December 1999. The OAS has a long history of cooperation with civil society organizations, which has been enhanced by the Summit of the Americas consultative process. Non-governmental organizations have made significant contributions to the work of the IACHR, the Sustainable Development and Environment Unit, the Unit for the Promotion of Democracy, and CIDI. The new OAS civil society guidelines are designed to complement, but not modify the rules governing CIDI, its inter-American committees, and other inter-American specialized conferences and organizations. The guidelines establish an accreditation process similar to that used within the UN system.

The OAS trade unit, in cooperation with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), provides technical support to the negotiating groups created by the Miami Summit process to deal with issues involved in the creation of a Free Trade Area in the Americas (FTAA). The trade unit also has sponsored training courses on trade issues for officials from Latin American and Caribbean countries, held at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. The OAS' highly regarded trade information service, known as SICE, provides trade data and information on trade agreements, investment treaties and national regulations, as well as business directories and other sources of contacts, in a data bank at http://www.sice.oas.org. SICE also manages the FTAA home page, at http://www.ftaa-alca.org, in addition to the FTAA's Secure Document Distribution Service.

The Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL), which has active private sector participation, provides a impartial forum for resolving issues of keen commercial interest, such as coordination of standards and radio frequency spectrum use. In response to a Santiago Summit mandate, CITEL is developing best practices guidelines for universal service and interconnection and working to reduce standards-based trade barriers. One particularly important CITEL accomplishment was the endorsement in October 1999 of the Inter-American Mutual Recognition Agreement for the Assessment of Conformity of Telecommunications Equipment, also a Santiago Summit initiative. CITEL is a semi autonomous entity that reports to the OAS General Assembly through the Permanent Council. It maintains an Internet home page at http://www.citel.oas.org.


The General Secretariat is the permanent and central organ of the OAS, executing programs and policies decided upon by the General Assembly and the two councils. Directed by the Secretary General, it occupies a key position within the inter-American system and serves the entire organization and all member states. The Secretary General and the Assistant Secretary General are elected by the General Assembly for 5-year terms. They can be reelected once and cannot be succeeded by a person of the same nationality.

Senior secretariat officials appointed by the Secretary General include the assistant secretaries for legal affairs and management, the director general of the development agency (IACD), the executive secretaries of the commission of women (CIM) and the drug abuse control commission (CICAD), the directors of various units, including trade and promotion of democracy, and the executive director of the human rights commission. Secretariat personnel conduct the activities of all the OAS units and serve as the staff for the commissions, councils, and other bodies.

The staff of the General Secretariat is composed of personnel chosen mainly from the member states, with consideration given to geographic representation. Staff members, numbering about 550, are considered international civil servants. The OAS Secretariat also maintains a small office in many member states.

The General Assembly is the supreme organ of the OAS. It holds a regular session each year, either in one of the member states or at headquarters in Washington, DC. In special circumstances, and with the approval of two-thirds of the member states, the Permanent Council can convoke a special session of the General Assembly. Delegations are usually headed by foreign ministers. In addition to deliberating on current issues, the General Assembly approves the program-budget; sets the bases for fixing member-state quota assessments; establishes measures for coordinating the activities of the organs, agencies, and entities of the OAS; and determines the general standards that govern the operation of the General Secretariat. General Assembly decisions usually take the form of resolutions, which must be approved by a majority of all members (two-thirds for agenda, budget, and certain other questions).

A consultation meeting of foreign ministers can be called by any member state, either "to consider problems of an urgent nature and of common interest to the American States" (as stated in the OAS Charter) or to serve as an organ of consultation in cases of armed attack or other threats to international peace and security (per the Rio Treaty). In either case, the request must be directed to the Permanent Council of the OAS, which decides by absolute majority vote if the meeting is to be called. In cases between member states, the affected parties are excluded from voting. Should an armed attack take place within the territory of an American state or within the Western Hemisphere security zone defined by the Rio Treaty, a meeting of consultation is held without delay. Until the ministers of foreign affairs can assemble, the Permanent Council is empowered to act as a provisional organ of consultation and make decisions.

The Permanent Council, composed of ambassadors representing each member state, usually meets every two weeks throughout the year in Washington, DC. The council, its standing committees, and special working groups conduct the day-today business of the OAS, which involves implementing mandates from the General Assemblies, designing and assessing activities to promote democracy and strengthen human rights, considering requests from members, debating and approving resolutions on current issues, and dealing with reports from subsidiary organs.

In an emergency, a special session of the council can be called immediately by its chairman or at the request of any member. The chair rotates every three months, in alphabetical order. Unlike the UN Security Council, no member can exercise a veto in the Permanent Council. OAS members place great importance on obtaining consensus before decisions are made. The Permanent Council also serves provisionally as the organ of consultation (for meetings of foreign ministers) and every year acts as the preparatory committee for the General Assembly.

The Inter-American Council for Integral Development meets annually at the ministerial level; its subsidiary entities meet more frequently. CIDI also convokes ministerial-level sectoral meetings in areas such as labor and education to consider specialized issues in the priority areas of the Strategic Plan.


Much important inter-American business is conducted by separate entities, some of which are independent, some fully or partially funded by the OAS, and others consisting simply of periodic hemispheric meetings, which receive support from the OAS Secretariat. Subjects covered include agriculture, labor, copyrights, private international law, highways, ports and harbors, railways, telecommunications, health and sanitation, statistics, travel, child welfare, women's issues, Indian affairs, and tourism. The conferences are attended by high-level officials and technical experts to further inter-American cooperation in these fields.

The Inter-American Children's Institute (IIN), founded in 1927 and headquartered in Montevideo, Uruguay, is concerned with the problems of minors and families, including trafficking, child labor, commercial sexual exploitation, international abduction of minors by one of their parents, and war-affected children. It serves as a center for social action and programs in the fields of health, education, social legislation, legislation on adoptions, social service, and statistics. IIN has contributed extensively to international jurisprudence in the field of family law; the most recent example of this work is model legislation on international adoption. IIN maintains an Internet home page at http://www.iin.org.uy

The Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM), established in 1928, was the first international organization focusing on women's issues. It works to extend the civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights of women in the hemisphere. Now concerned with women's integration into development and decision-making processes, domestic violence, trafficking in persons, and women's human rights, CIM research and seminars have focused on women and politics, women and employment, and violence against women. The Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women (Convention of Belem do Para) was drafted under the auspices of the CIM. It was opened for signature at the OAS General Assembly in 1994 and has been signed by 31 OAS members. In April 2000, the CIM ministerial approved the Inter-American Program on the Promotion of Women's Human Rights and Gender Equity and Equality. CIM maintains an Internet home page at http://www.oas.org/CIM/default.htm.

The Inter-American Defense Board (IADB) was created in 1942 to plan and coordinate collective hemispheric defense. In 1993, it arranged for training by the U.S. Department of Defense of a team of 15 demining instructors from Latin American nations, who, in turn, instructed members of the Nicaraguan military on techniques for removing thousands of land mines left in the countryside as a result of civil conflict during the 1980's. The IADB demining programs were extended to Honduras and Costa Rica in 1995 and 1996; demining began in Guatemala in 1997. The IADB's Internet address is: http://www.jid.org.

The Inter-American Defense College (IADC) , supervised by the IADB, enhances military professionalism and promotes regional military cooperation. The college usually trains about 60 students per year, most of whom are field-grade officers, who attain leadership positions in their respective services.

Other entities in the inter-American system are financed outside the OAS budget. Except for the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), which relies heavily on private sector contributions and a small subsidy from the OAS, and the IDB, which has significant financial support from non-hemispheric members, the U.S. quota assessment for these entities is, as for the OAS itself, roughly 59%.

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the first of the regional development banks, was established in 1959 to provide lending attuned to the development needs of Latin America and the Caribbean. In addition to nations of the hemisphere, 15 European nations plus Japan and Israel are now members, but only Latin American and Caribbean members are eligible borrowers. The IDB's ordinary capital window provides development funds at market-related terms, while its Fund for Special Operations offers financing at concessional terms for projects in countries classified as economically less developed. The bank's Internet address is: http://www.iadb.org.

The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA), founded in 1942 and headquartered in San Jose, Costa Rica, assists member states in promoting agricultural health and food safety, strengthening national agricultural institutional systems, and building trade capacity in agricultural commodities.

IICA supports efforts to increase agricultural productivity, employment opportunities in rural sectors, and rural participation in development activities. IICA also has an excellent record in preventing the spread of threatening animal and plant diseases and in helping members develop sustainable methods of food production. Policy direction comes from ministers of agriculture in each member country, who form the Inter-American Board of Agriculture (IABA). IICA's Internet address is: http://www.iica.int

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), created in 1902, has served as the Western Hemisphere arm of the UN World Health Organization (WHO) since 1948. It coordinates hemispheric efforts to combat disease and promote physical and mental health. It has contributed significantly to eradicating communicable diseases and promoting improved sanitation and health conditions. PAHO's Internet address is: http://www.paho.org.

The Pan American Institute of Geography and History (PAIGH), headquartered in Mexico City, encourages the coordination, standardization, and publication of regional geographic, historical, cartographic, and geophysical studies. Member countries receive information and technical assistance for the sustainable development of their natural resources. PAIGH also assists member countries in identifying risks posed by natural disasters and has provided technical expertise to assist in mapping disputed borders between member countries.

Established in 1928, PAIGH preserves and documents historical data through research and publication. It also facilitates cooperative relationships between U.S. agencies and other countries in such vital areas as aviation safety and natural disaster mitigation. PAIGH's Internet home page is at http://www.ipgh.org.mx.

The Inter-American Indian Institute (IAII), created by the Patzcuaro Convention in 1940 and headquartered in Mexico City, initiates, coordinates, and directs research to promote better understanding of the health, education, and economic and social problems of Indian populations. It provides a forum for government representatives to discuss approaches to address the many challenges facing indigenous communities in the Americas. The U.S. withdrew from the IAII in December 2000.

The Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) is a quasi-public international organization that, although created by the OAS in 1962, receives more than half its financial support from U.S. corporations and other private sources. Intended to serve as a social service partner for corporations operating in Latin American and the Caribbean, PADF has channeled more than $100 million into development projects that mobilize private sector support in recipient countries. It also coordinates disaster relief. The PADF qualifies for charitable donations under the U.S. Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3).

January 13, 2004

"Two years ago in this city, world leaders formed the Monterrey Consensus. We pledged to work for government that is responsive to the basic needs of every human being... and for policies that promote opportunity for all.... To realize our common vision, we must set goals that are specific and measurable. In doing so, we will affirm our determination to succeed and give hope to millions. Together we will implement the Monterrey Consensus, lift all of our nations, and show the world that free societies and free markets can deliver real benefits for all of our citizens." -- President George W. Bush January 12, 2004 Monterrey, Mexico

Presidential Action

President Bush came to the Summit to urge Leaders to strengthen the foundations for democracy and economic growth in the hemisphere by taking action to promote democracy and good governance, to spur private sector-led growth and reduce poverty, and to improve health and education.

To intensify the fight against corruption, Leaders agreed to: Strengthen a "culture of transparency" in the Americas; Deny safe haven to corrupt officials; Promote transparency in public financial management; and Hold consultations if adherence to their transparency and anti-corruption objectives is "compromised to a serious degree" in any Summit country.

To spur growth and reduce poverty, Leaders agreed to: Reduce significantly the time and cost of starting a business by the next Summit in 2005; Endorse the Inter-American Development Bank's goal of tripling the credit it provides for small and medium-sized businesses by 2007; Cut by at least half the cost of sending remittances by 2008; Strengthen property rights by the next Summit in 2005; and Reaffirm support for completing the Free Trade Area of the Americas on schedule, by January 2005.

To improve health and education, Leaders agreed to: Provide HIV/AIDS antiretroviral therapy to all who need it, with a focus on treating at least 600,000 individuals by 2005; and Improve the quality of education by publishing school system performance reports by the 2005 Summit.

Fighting Corruption

Anticorruption and Trans parency: The World Bank has identified corruption as "the single greatest obstacle to economic and social development," cutting growth rates by 0.5 to 1 percent annually. Recognizing that transparency is an essential element of well-functioning democracies and market economies, the Leaders, at U.S. urging, committed to: Strengthen a "culture of transparency" in the Americas; "Deny safe haven to corrupt officials, those who corrupt them, and their assets"; and Promote transparency in "public financial management, in government transactions and procurement processes and contracts."

In a significant step, Summit Leaders agreed to hold consultations if adherence to their shared transparency and anticorruption objectives, as articulated in the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption, is "compromised to a serious degree" in any of the Summit countries. Reflecting the fact that transparency is integral to democracy, this new commitment parallels an existing commitment to hold consultations in the event of a breakdown of the democratic process in any Summit country.

Today's commitments advance President Bush's efforts to implement a robust international transparency and anticorruption agenda. Specifically, he has: Signed a Presidential Proclamation to bar corrupt officials from entering the United States; Agreed to return to Peru over $20 million that had been hidden in the United States by former Peruvian intelligence chief Montesinos and his associates. Montesinos is now serving a jail sentence in Peru for his crimes, including corruption; Approved assistance for a pilot project in Nicaragua to strengthen its law enforcement capacity and promote civil society involvement in anti-corruption efforts; Conditioned Millennium Challenge Account eligibility on a demonstrated commitment to fight corruption; and Obtained strong transparency and anti-corruption commitments at last year's G-8 and APEC Summits.

Spurring Private Sector-Led Growth

Reducing the time and cost of starting a business: Starting a business in the Western Hemisphere takes longer than in any region in the world. Recognizing that small and medium-sized businesses are the primary engines of economic growth and job creation, at U.S. urging, Leaders agreed to "reduce significantly" the time and cost of starting a business by the next Summit of the Americas in 2005.

Increasing access to credit for small and medium-sized businesses: Lack of credit is a serious obstacle to business formation and growth. The Leaders supported the Inter-American Development Bank's goal of tripling the credit it provides for small and medium-sized businesses through local banking systems by 2007.

Lowering the cost of remittances: Remittances, the money sent by migrants to their families and friends living abroad, have tripled in the last six years and totaled more than $32 billion in the Western Hemisphere in 2002 -- more than four times official development assistance flows to the region. Yet, the region is losing approximately $4 billion a year due to high remittance transfer fees, averaging 12.5 percent. Leaders committed to creating the conditions to cut by at least half the cost of remittance transfers by 2008.

Securing Property Rights: A fair and well functioning property rights system is the foundation for a market economy. Currently, approximately half of all property in some of the region's countries is not officially recorded. Leaders agreed to: Ensure "enforceable, efficient, transparent, comprehensive and equitable rules governing property contracts;" Improve or promote policies and regulations governing "the transfer of property, property registries, the use of property as collateral, and the rights and responsibilities of debtors and creditors;" and Take "concrete actions" regarding these measures by the next Summit of the Americas in Argentina in 2005.

Promoting Financial Stability: Leaders committed to continue working to promote macroeconomic stability and reduce financial vulnerability. They noted with satisfaction efforts to explore financial instruments, such as growth-indexed bonds, which can minimize the vulnerability of developing countries to economic shocks and down turns. Growth-indexed bonds would allow governments to pay smaller amounts of interest if growth is below expectations and would pay more when growth is exceeding expectations.

Expanding Trade: President Bush and the other Leaders welcomed recent progress made on the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) at the November, 2003 FTAA Ministerial in Miami, endorsed the Miami framework, and reaffirmed the agreed timetable of completing negotiations by January 2005. The FTAA will establish the world's largest free trade area -- with 34 countries, almost 800 million consumers, and a $13 trillion GDP. The Leaders also reaffirmed their shared interest in advancing the World Trade Organization's Doha negotiations.

The President's goal for free and fair trade throughout the hemisphere is reinforced by complementary bilateral and subregional free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations: Our free trade agreement with Chile entered into force on January 1, 2004. The Administration recently concluded FTA negotiations with El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, and is working to complete agreement with Costa Rica. This past fall, the Administration announced its intent to begin FTA negotiations with the Dominican Republic,

Panama, and four Andean countries -- Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia. These in-process FTAs, combined with those already in effect (i.e., Canada, Mexico, and Chile), will cover 68 percent of the GDP of America's neighbors.

Improving Health and Education

HIV/AIDS: More than two million people are now living with HIV in Latin America and the Caribbean, including the estimated 200,000 that contracted HIV in the past year. The Leaders agreed to intensify prevention, care and treatment programs and committed to provide antiretroviral therapy to all who need it, with a focus on treating at least 600,000 individuals by 2005.

President Bush has led international efforts to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic and has tripled U.S. spending on HIV/AIDS: The President's $15 billion Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief targets the most afflicted countries: Guyana and Haiti in the Western Hemisphere, and 12 countries in Africa. In June 2003, President Bush and Brazil's President Lula da Silva launched a joint venture to improve HIV/AIDS treatment, care, and prevention in Portuguese-speaking Africa.

Education: Leaders agreed on the urgent need to reform school systems in Latin America. Almost half of the students in the region who enter primary school fail to reach fifth grade, and only about 30 percent finish secondary school. On international achievement tests, the best school systems in the region fall in the bottom quartile.

Leaders committed to improve accountability in education, including by publishing performance assessments of their educational systems by the next Summit of the Americas. To support this effort, the United States will: Provide assistance to develop ten model Educational Performance Reports in the Western Hemisphere, focusing on Venezuela, Peru, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Colombia, and regional reports on Central America and the Hemisphere as a whole. Continue supporting education programs in the region. The United States invested $53 million in education programs in the region last year.

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OAS August 2003

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