DC -- Foggy Bottom -- Organization of American States -- Main Bldg + Museum Exterior:
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- Wikipedia Description: Organization of American States
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Organization of American States (OAS, or, as it is known in the three other official languages, OEA) is an international organization, headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States. Its members are the thirty-five independent states of the Americas.
The notion of closer hemispheric union in the American continent was first put forward by Simón Bolívar who, at the 1826 Congress of Panama, proposed creating a league of American republics, with a common military, a mutual defense pact, and a supranational parliamentary assembly. This meeting was attended by representatives of Gran Colombia (comprising the modern-day nations of Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, and Venezuela), Peru, the United Provinces of Central America, and Mexico, but the grandly titled "Treaty of Union, League, and Perpetual Confederation" was ultimately only ratified by Gran Colombia. Bolívar's dream soon floundered with civil war in Gran Colombia, the disintegration of Central America, and the emergence of national rather than continental outlooks in the newly independent American republics.
The pursuit of regional solidarity and cooperation again came to the forefront in 1889–90, at the First International Conference of American States. Gathered together in Washington, D.C., 18 nations resolved to found the International Union of American Republics, served by a permanent secretariat called the Commercial Bureau of the American Republics (renamed the "International Commercial Bureau" at the Second International Conference in 1901–02). These two bodies, in existence as of 14 April 1890, represent the point of inception to which today's OAS and its General Secretariat trace their origins.
At the Fourth International Conference of American States (Buenos Aires, 1910), the name of the organization was changed to the "Union of American Republics" and the Bureau became the "Pan American Union".
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 Ninth International Conference of American States was held in Bogotá between March and May 1948 and led by U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall, a meeting which led to a pledge by members to fight communism in America. This was the event that saw the birth of the OAS as it stands today, with the signature by 21 American countries of the Charter of the Organization of American States on 30 April 1948 (in effect since December 1951). The meeting also adopted the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, the world's first general human rights instrument.
The transition from the Pan American Union to OAS was smooth. The Director General of the former, Alberto Lleras Camargo, became the Organization's first Secretary General. The current Secretary General is former Chilean foreign minister José Miguel Insulza.
Significant milestones in the history of the OAS since the signing of the Charter have included the following:
* 1959: Inter-American Commission on Human Rights created.
* 1961: Charter of Punta del Este signed, launching the Alliance for Progress.
* 1969: American Convention on Human Rights signed (in force since 1978).
* 1970: OAS General Assembly established as the Organization's supreme decision-making body.
* 1979: Inter-American Court of Human Rights created.
* 1991: Adoption of Resolution 1080, which requires the Secretary General to convene the Permanent Council within ten days of a coup d'état in any member country.
* 1994: First Summit of the Americas (Miami), which resolved to establish a Free Trade Area of the Americas by 2005.
* 2001: Inter-American Democratic Charter adopted.
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