About the OAS

Organization of American States

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 Bogotá, 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 government has been excluded from participation in the Inter-American system since 1962 for incompatibility with the principles and objectives of that system. In June 2009, the OAS General Assembly adopted a resolution — AG/RES. 2438 “Resolution on Cuba” — providing that Cuba’s exclusion from participation in the OAS ceased to have effect, and establishing that any eventual resumption of participation would be the result of a process of dialogue and would be in accordance with the practices, purposes, and principles of the OAS, including those of democracy and human rights at the core of the institution and that member states are committed to uphold.

Permanent observers: The status of Permanent Observer to the Organization of American States was established by the General Assembly at its first regular session, held in San José, Costa Rica, in 1971 [AG/RES. 50 (I-O/71)]. Permanent Observers participate in the Organization’s activities and contribute to its programs.

The OAS currently has 71 Permanent Observers.

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).