CONCEPTS

What is the OAS?

We explain what the OAS is and the different functions of this organization. In addition, its objectives and countries that compose it.

  1. What is the OAS?

The OAS is the Organization of American States  (OAS in English), an international organization of a Pan-American court and regional scope of action, created on April 30, 1948  with the idea of ​​operating as a multilateral instance for the integration of the continent.

Its headquarters are located in the district of Columbia, United States, with regional offices in its 35 member countries, and its official languages ​​are Spanish, English, French and Portuguese.

The origins of the OAS  date back to the First Pan American International Conference , established in 1890 with the purpose of laying the foundations for a commercial integration between the Americas.

Subsequently, in 1948, 21 nations affiliated with said organization met in Bogotá, Colombia, to sign the Charter of the Organization of American States, thus formally initiating the OAS.

Despite its express purposes of integration and solidarity among all the nations of the American continent, the OAS  has been criticized or controversial on numerous occasions .

Perhaps the best known are the lack of support for Argentina during its confrontation with Great Britain for the Falklands or Falklands Islands (in fact, Chile and the US supported the European country) and Resolution VI of 1962, which took the decision to expel Cuba from the organization, within the framework of the Cold War tensions. This resolution was subsequently invalid, but Cuba never rejoined the OAS.

Subsequent controversies have poured out the idea that the OAS responds to interests not precisely Pan-Americanists, but veiledly imperialists, favoring American interests in the region under the guise of strengthening democracy .

These accusations have been led by the Venezuelan government, who announced in 2017 its official withdrawal from the organization, and proposed CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) as a Latin American alternative to the OAS.

  1. OAS Functions

OAS
The OAS is a forum for political cooperation.

The OAS has essentially diplomatic and representative functions, since it is a forum for political cooperation . However, it is empowered to exercise a certain level of coercion in cases that warrant it, as long as it does not violate fundamental principles of its charter, such as the right to the sovereignty of nations, and as long as it has the positive vote of the member states. The OAS can also promote human development in its various areas: academic, citizen, political, among others.

  1. OAS Objectives

OAS
The OAS offers support in electoral and democratic matters to its member countries.

The objectives of the OAS are summarized in four fundamental guidelines:

  • Political dialogue . To solve problems of various kinds among member states, serving as a political forum for the region, moving towards common goals. To that end, countries adhere to the guidelines of the Inter-American Democratic Charter.
  • Cooperation . The OAS provides support in various areas to member countries, strengthening their institutionality and offering support in electoral and democratic matters, such as electoral observation, scholarships and support for natural disasters .
  • Monitoring mechanisms . The organization maintains various measurement mechanisms among its member states, to provide data and statistics regarding fundamental aspects of democratic life, such as the control of drug use, citizen rights, etc.
  • Legal heritage . OAS member countries sign multilateral treaties that allow common legislation around sensitive issues, such as arms sales, rights for people with disabilities or poverty reduction.
  1. OAS member countries

The OAS is composed of the following member countries:

Argentina Nicaragua
Bolivia Panama
Brazil Paraguay
Chile Peru
Colombia Uruguay
Costa Rica Barbados
Cuba Trinidad and Tobago
Dominican Republic Jamaica
Ecuador Pomegranate
The Savior Surinam
U.S Canada
Guatemala Guyana
Haiti Belize
Honduras Bahamas
Mexico St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Dominica Old and bearded
San Cristobal St. Lucia
Snow Venezuela (*)

(*) Venezuela is a member State in the process of separation.

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