Abstract Organization of American States (OAS), international organization, created Apr. 30, 1948, at Bogot'a, Colombia, by agreement of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela. Another 17 states have subsequently joined. The OAS affirms the participating nation's commitment to common goals and respect for each nation's sovereignty. The OAS is a regional agency designed to work with the United Nations to promote peace, justice, and hemispheric solidarity; to foster economic development and to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the signatory nations.

The general secretariat, formerly the Pan-American Union, located in Washington, D. C, is the permanent body of the OAS. After 1948, the OAS council set out to enforce the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, known as the Rio Treaty. The OAS has repeatedly opposed unilateral intervention in the affairs of member countries. The OAS is an association of 35 American countries.

The OAS seeks to provide for collective self-defense, regional cooperation, and the peaceful settlement of controversies. The OAS charter sets forth the group's guiding principles. These principles include a belief in the value of international law, social justice, economic cooperation, and the equality of all people. In addition, the OAS charter states that an act of aggression against one American nation is regarded as an act of aggression against all the nations in the OAS. The OAS charter has made an important impact on the participating states by enforcing the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance and to promote hemispheric unity. The OAS functions through several bodies.

Major policies are formed at annual sessions of the General Assembly. All member nations can attend, and each has one vote. Special Meetings of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs deal with urgent problems, especially those relating to defense or the maintenance of peace in the Americas. The Permanent Council, with headquarters in Washington, D.

C. , is the executive body of the OAS. Each member nation is represented. For convenience, diplomatic representatives in Washington serve as council members. The council supervises the General Secretariat, makes plans for General Assembly sessions, and oversees OAS administration. The secretary-general, the chief administrator of the OAS, is elected to a five-year term by the General Assembly.

Specialized conferences promote inter-American cooperation. (Thomas, 68) The Organization of American States had its early beginning at the First International Conference of American States, which met in Washington, D. C. , in 1889 and 1890.

The delegates established the International Union of American Republics, with the Commercial Bureau of the American Republics as its central office. This bureau was renamed the Pan American Union in 1910. The Pan American Union became the permanent body of the OAS when it was organized in 1948 at the ninth Pan-American Conference, held in Bogot'a, Colombia. The organization's original charter became effective in December 1951. An amended charter took effect in February 1970, and the Pan American Union was renamed the General Secretariat of the OAS. Early in 1962, the Organization of American States voted to exclude Cuba's Communist government from active membership.

But Cuba itself remains an OAS member even though its government cannot participate in any of the organization's activities. (Han, 125) In 1965, a revolt in the Dominican Republic led the OAS to set up its first military force. Troops from six Latin American countries and the United States took part. The troops and OAS committees worked to restore order in the Dominican Republic. In 1969, the OAS acted quickly to end a five-day invasion of Honduras by troops from El Salvador.

(Shenin/56) During the late 1970's, the organization's main concern became human rights. The Inter-American Human Rights Commission-a specialized OAS agency-interviewed political exiles and conducted on-site investigations of human-rights violations. The commission also issued reports about electoral fraud, illegal imprisonment, and torture and other acts of brutality. In the 1990 s the region left behind the divisions of the Cold War and moved toward greater agreement and closer cooperation. The OAS Charter was reformed to reflect the hemisphere's strengthened commitment to representative democracy. In recent years the Organization has adopted landmark conventions against corruption, illegal arms trafficking and violence against women.

Here are some of the Organization's priorities: The OAS been concerned with strengthening democracy through electoral observation missions to monitor more than 45 elections around the hemisphere, helping to ensure transparency and integrity of the voting process. It helps member states strengthen their electoral, municipal and legislative institutions and carry out education programs to promote democratic values and practices. (C. Thomas/89) Special OAS missions have supported the peace process in Nicaragua, Suriname, Haiti and Guatemala. The OAS is also leading the effort to remove land mines in Central America, with the technical support of the Inter-American Defense Board. The program, which has received funding, equipment and personnel support from 19 OAS member or observer states, has resulted in the destruction of thousands of antipersonnel mines in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, based in Washington, D. C. , and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, located in San Jos'e, Costa Rica, together provide recourse to people who have suffered human rights violations. The Commission also reports on the status of human rights in member countries and focuses attention on specific issues such as freedom of expression, the rights of indigenous peoples and women's rights. (Zacher/33) The OAS is providing technical support in economic integration efforts, working with the Inter-American Development Bank and the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean to create a Free Trade Area of the Americas agreement by 2005, as mandated under the Summit of the Americas process. The OAS has paid special attention to ensuring that the concerns of smaller economies are taken into account.

(Thomas/76) The Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission works with member countries to strengthen laws, provide training in prevention programs, promote alternative development, improve law enforcement and stem the illegal trafficking of narcotics and related chemicals and arms. Acting on a mandate from the Summit of the Americas, the Commission has been developing a multilateral evaluation tool to measure the progress that individual countries and the region as a whole are making in meeting anti-drug goals. The OAS, supported by substantial outside funding, carries out technical cooperation programs to address the needs of member's states in such areas as river basin management, biodiversity conservation, planning for global climate change and natural disaster mitigation. The OAS is also working to improve the exchange of information and citizen participation in decision-making about how to protect the environment and manage natural resources. (Stoetzer/45) The influence of the OAS began to decline during the early 1980's because of increased involvement by other international agencies in Latin-American affairs.

These agencies included the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. (Han/98) At the outset of a new century and a new millennium, the challenge is how to turn citizens' high expectations into reality. The Organization of American States (OAS) is playing a central role in working toward many of the goals that are shared by the countries of North, Central and South America and the Caribbean. (C. Thomas/23) Though there hasn't been any recent effort by the OAS, there isn't much doubt that the OAS has had a lasting impact on the entire western hemisphere, by taking steps toward conquering it's goals of strengthening of hemispheric peace and security through a pro-U. S.

, anticommunist policy, the settling of disputes among its members, provision for collective security, and the encouraging of socioeconomic cooperation. Citations Han, Henry. (1987). Problems and Prospects of the Organization of American States. Lang, Peter Publishing, Incorporated. Shenin, David.

(1995). Organization of American States... Transaction Publishers. Stoetzer, Carlos. (1993). The Organization of American States.

Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated. Thomas, A. J. , Wynn, Thomas.

(1965). Organization of American States. Southern Methodist University Press. Thomas, Christopher. (1998).

The Organization of American States in Its 50 th Year: Overview of a Regional Commitment. Organization of American States. Zacher, Mark. (1979). International Conflicts and Collective Security: 1947-1077. Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated..