Online Resources – The Organization of American States

The Organization of American States (OAS) is a multilateral regional organization focused on human rights, electoral oversight, social and economic development, and security in the Western Hemisphere. While the organization is recognized by many foreign policy experts as an important forum for regional diplomacy, critics say ideological divisions among its members have hampered its efforts to promote democratic principles. The OAS came under renewed focus in 2017 as the group sharpened its criticism of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his attempts to consolidate power and suppress political opposition.

The United States and twenty other governments in the Western Hemisphere signed the OAS charter in 1948 to increase regional security and commercial cooperation. Additionally, the United States hoped the new organization would serve as a bulwark against the spread of communism. Member states pledged to strengthen regional peace and security, promote representative democracy, and encourage economic and social cooperation. The OAS came into being a year after member states signed the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, known as the Rio Treaty, which established a defensive military alliance in the region. Since then, its membership has increased to thirty-five states; there are seventy permanent observers.

Taken from: The Council on Foreign Relations

General Information

This Organization Unites the Americas (Now This World)

The Organization of the Americas Website

OAS Videos

OAS Resources, Background and Timeline

Background and Critique on the OAS

This Day in History: 1948 – Organization of American States established

OAS Member States

Important Documents and Publications

Charter of the Organization of American States (1948)

Meetings of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs

American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man (1948)

Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance – Rio Treaty (1948)

OAS Publications

Organization of American States: Background and Issues for Congress – Detailed Explanation and American View of the OAS

Bodies and Organizations

OAS Organizational Chart

General Secretariat Organizational Chart

Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR)

Critique of the IACHR


The Organization of American States Preserves Democratic Charter-For Now! – Diana Villiers Negroponte, Brookings Institute

The Organization of American States is in Crisis. This Matters Big Time – UN Dispatch

The Future of the Organization of American States – Alejandro Sanchez and Kelly Morrison, The CSS Blog Network

The IACHR Against Colonialism – Manuela Picq, Aljazeera

Cuba and the OAS: A Story of a Dramatic Fallout and Reconciliation – Stella Krepp, Wilson Center

News and Annoucements

Press Release on Venezuela (May 29, 2018)

Organization of American States Adopts Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People – Adelfo Regino Montes, Cultural Survival

Statement by the OAS General Secretariat on the Elections in Honduras (December 7, 2017)

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