The "General Assembly is the supreme decision-making body of OAS. It convenes once every year in a regular session. In special circumstances, and with the approval of two-thirds of the member states, the "Permanent Council can convene special sessions.
The Organization's member states take turns hosting the General Assembly on a rotating basis. The states are represented at its sessions by their chosen delegates: generally, their ministers of foreign affairs, or their appointed deputies. Each state has one vote, and most matters—except for those for which the Charter or the General Assembly's own rules of procedure specifically require a two-thirds majority—are settled by a simple majority vote.
The General Assembly's powers include setting the OAS's general course and policies by means of resolutions and declarations; approving its budget and determining the contributions payable by the member states; approving the reports and previous year's actions of the OAS's specialized agencies; and electing members to serve on those agencies.
Membership and adhesions
All 35 independent nations of the Americas are members of the OAS. Upon foundation on 5 May 1948, there were 21 members:
The later expansion of the OAS included "Canada and the newly independent nations of the "Caribbean. Members with later admission dates (sorted chronologically):
- "Barbados (member since 1967)
- "Trinidad and Tobago (1967)
- "Jamaica (1969)
- "Grenada (1975)
- "Suriname (1977)
- "Dominica (1979)
- "Saint Lucia (1979)
- "Antigua and Barbuda (1981)
- "Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (1981)
- "Bahamas (1982)
- "Saint Kitts and Nevis (1984)
- "Canada (1990)
- "Belize (1991)
- "Guyana (1991)
Canada and the OAS
Although "Canada obtained independence in its foreign policy from the "United Kingdom in "1931, it chose not to join the OAS when it was first formed, despite its "close relations with the United States. Canada became a Permanent Observer in the OAS on 2 February 1972. Canada signed the Charter of the Organization of American States on 13 November 1989 and this decision was ratified on 8 January 1990.
In 2004–2005, Canada was the second largest contributor to the OAS, with an annual assessed contribution representing 12.36 percent of the OAS Regular Budget (US$9.2 million) and an additional C$9 million in voluntary contributions to specific projects. Shortly after joining as a full member, Canada was instrumental in the creation of the Unit for the Promotion of Democracy, which provides support for the strengthening and consolidation of democratic processes and institutions in OAS member states.
Sanctions against the Dominican Republic
During the 6th Conference of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of American States (OAS) in "Costa Rica, from 16 to 20 August 1960, it was agreed to unanimously a conviction against the State of the Dominican Republic. The penalty was motivated because the foreign ministers checked the veracity of the "Rafael Trujillo regime had sponsored the attack against "Rómulo Betancourt, at that time, constitutional president of Venezuela. The meeting was attended by foreign ministers from 21 American nations, including "Cuba, which at that time had not been expelled from the inter-American system.
All countries, including the "United States and "Haiti broke off diplomatic relations with the Dominican Republic. Additionally an economic blockade that affected the exports of sugar was applied, which at that time was the pillar of the Dominican economy.
It was the first application of the "Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, which had been adopted at the OAS on July 29, 1960.
Status of Cuba
The current government of Cuba was excluded from participation in the Organization under a decision adopted by the Eighth Meeting of Consultation in "Punta del Este, "Uruguay, on 31 January 1962. The vote was passed by 14 in favor, with one against (Cuba) and six abstentions (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, and Mexico). The operative part of the resolution reads as follows:
- That adherence by any member of the Organization of American States to Marxism-Leninism is incompatible with the inter-American system and the alignment of such a government with the communist bloc breaks the unity and solidarity of the continents.
- That the present Government of Cuba, which has officially identified itself as a Marxist-Leninist government, was incompatible with the principles and objectives of the inter-American system.
- That this incompatibility excluded the present Government of Cuba from participation in the inter-American system.
This meant that the Cuban nation was still technically a member state, but that the current government was denied the right of representation and attendance at meetings and of participation in activities. The OAS's position was that although Cuba's participation was suspended, its obligations under the Charter, the "American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, etc. still hold: for instance, the "Inter-American Commission on Human Rights continued to publish reports on Cuba's human rights situation and to hear individual cases involving Cuban nationals. However, this stance was occasionally questioned by other individual member states.
Cuba's position was stated in an official note sent to the Organization "merely as a courtesy" by Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. "Raúl Roa on 4 November 1964: "Cuba was arbitrarily excluded... The Organization of American States has no juridical, factual, or moral jurisdiction, nor competence, over a state which it has illegally deprived of its rights."
The reincorporation of Cuba as an active member regularly arose as a topic within the inter-American system – for instance, it was intimated by the outgoing ambassador of Mexico in 1998 – but most observers did not see it as a serious possibility while the present government remained in power. Since 1960, the Cuban administration had repeatedly characterized the OAS as the "Ministry of Colonies" of the United States of America. On 6 May 2005, President "Fidel Castro reiterated that the island nation would not "be part of a disgraceful institution that has only humiliated the honor of Latin American nations." After Fidel Castro's recent retirement and the ascent of his brother "Raúl to power, this official position was reasserted. "Venezuelan President "Hugo Chávez promised to veto any final declaration of the 2009 "Summit of the Americas due to Cuba's exclusion.
On 17 April 2009, after a "trading of warm words" between the administrations of U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban leader Raúl Castro, OAS Secretary General "José Miguel Insulza said he would ask the 2009 General Assembly to annul the 1962 resolution excluding Cuba.
On 3 June 2009, foreign ministers assembled in "San Pedro Sula, "Honduras, for the OAS's 39th "General Assembly, passed a vote to lift Cuba's suspension from the OAS. The United States had been pressuring the OAS for weeks to condition Cuba's readmission to the group on democratic principles and commitment to human rights. Ecuador's Foreign Minister "Fander Falconí said there will be no such conditions. "This is a new proposal, it has no conditions—of any kind," Falconí said. "That suspension was made in the "Cold War, in the language of the Cold War. What we have done here is fix a historic error." The suspension was lifted at the end of the General Assembly, but, to be readmitted to the Organization, Cuba will need to comply with all the treaties signed by the Member States, including the Inter-American Democratic Charter of 2001. A Declaration by Cuba's Revolutionary Government dated 8 June 2009 stated that while Cuba welcomed the Assembly's gesture, in light of the Organization's historical record "Cuba will not return to the OAS."
Suspension of Honduras
Following "the expulsion of its President "Manuel Zelaya, Honduras' membership of the Organization was suspended unanimously at midnight on 5 July 2009. The "de facto government had already announced it was leaving the OAS hours earlier; this was not, however, taken into account by the OAS, which does not recognize that government as legitimate. An extraordinary meeting had been conducted by the OAS in "Washington, D.C., with Zelaya in attendance. The suspension of Honduras was approved unanimously with 33 votes (Honduras did not vote). This was the first suspension carried out by the OAS since that of Cuba in 1962.
After Zelaya's return to Honduras in 2011, the country was re-admitted to the Organization on 1 June 2011 with 32 votes in favor and 1 (Ecuador) against. Venezuela expressed some reservations.
As of 31 January 2014, there are 69 permanent observer countries including the four countries with territories in the Americas—Denmark, France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom; as well as the "European Union.
The Organization's "official languages are "Spanish, "English, "Portuguese, and "French. The Charter, the basic instrument governing OAS, makes no reference to the use of official languages. These references are to be found in the Rules of Procedure governing the various OAS bodies. Article 51 of the Rules of Procedure of the General Assembly, the supreme body of the OAS, which meets once a year, states that English, French, Portuguese and Spanish are the four official languages. Article 28 stipulates that a Style Committee shall be set up with representatives of the four official languages to review the General Assembly resolutions and declarations. Article 53 states that proposals shall be presented in the four official languages. The Rules of Procedure and Statutes of other bodies, such as the Inter-American Council for Integral Development (CIDI), the Permanent Executive Committee of the Inter-American Council for Integral Development (CEPCIDI), the "Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM), the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD), the "Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the Inter-American Juridical Committee (CJI), technical bodies of the OAS, also mention the four official languages in which their meetings are to be conducted. Policy is therefore dictated through these instruments that require use of the four official languages at meetings.
Although a number of other languages have official status in one or more member states of OAS ("Dutch in Suriname; "Haitian Creole alongside French in Haiti; "Quechua and "Aymara in Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia; "Guaraní in Paraguay), they are not official languages of the Organization.
- "Regional integration
- "Organization of Ibero-American States
- "Union of South American Nations
- "Community of Latin American and Caribbean States
- "Rio Group
- "Rio Pact
- "Statues of the Liberators
- Coordinates of OAS headquarters: "Coordinates:
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|""||Wikimedia Commons has media related to Organization of American States.|
- OAS official site
- Door Opens to OAS for Cuba by Thelma Mejia, "Havana Times, 4 June 2009.
- OAS Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression
- OAS Executive Secretariat for Integral Development (SEDI)
- OAS Foreign Trade Information System – SICE
- Outdoor sculpture at the OAS headquarters building.
- Educational Portal of the Americas
- OAS Lifts Ban On Cuba After 47 Years by Portia Siegelbaum, "CBS News, 3 June 2009.
- Cuba's Fidel Castro Calls OAS a "U.S. Trojan Horse" by Xinhua, 4 June 2009.
- The Organization of American States in Haiti: Election Monitoring or Political Intervention?, from the "Center for Economic and Policy Research, October 2011.