SPOTLIGHT: On April 13 and 14, 2018, the eighth “Summit of the Americas” was held in Lima (Peru). The heads of state and government of the American states spoke on the central theme of the summit: “Democratic governance against corruption”. The summits take place every three years.


According to dictionaryforall, the OAS is a regional international organization on the American continent, which was founded in 1948 in Bogota (Colombia) by 21 American states.


Strengthening democracy, enforcing human rights, ensuring peace and security, expanding trade relations and solving the complex problems caused by poverty, drug trafficking and corruption.

Members (35)

Members are all independent states on the American continent. In 2009, the exclusion of Cuba, which had been in force since 1962, was lifted again. Cuba still refuses to cooperate.

You will find a table overview of the members at the bottom of the page. There are also 70 permanent observers, namely 69 states and the EU as a whole.

Key word Venezuela
Venezuela wants to leave the OAS for “its dignity, independence, sovereignty …”, said Foreign Minister Rodríguez on April 27, 2017. The withdrawal takes place on the instructions of President Nicolás Maduro. The background to this is the organization’s repeated criticism of Venezuela’s socialist government in view of the serious political crisis in the country. OAS Secretary General Almagro had recently repeatedly and severely criticized the Venezuelan government and called for new elections in the South American country. In 2018, the General Assembly of the OAS discussed a resolution to suspend Venezuela’s membership. The application was justified with the political and humanitarian situation there.


Each member state has one vote. The annual General Assembly consists of the foreign ministers of the member states and provides political guidelines and directives.

The Permanent Council, consisting of the permanent ambassadors of the member countries, meets regularly at the OAS headquarters and carries out routine political and administrative tasks.

The Inter-American Council for Integral Development aims to contribute to economic development and the fight against poverty.

The OAS Secretariat implements the programs and policies established by the General Assembly and the Councils, especially in the fields of trade, sustainable development, education and the promotion of democratic structures.

The Secretary General of the OAS is elected for 5 years. The “headquarters” of the OAS is in Washington DC. In addition, there are a number of special institutes and pan- and inter-American organizations under the umbrella of the OAS.

The highlight of the OAS cooperation are the summit meetings of the heads of state and government, the so-called Summit of the Americas.


The principles of the OAS have developed from a number of regional cooperation approaches in the “Americas” and go back to the beginning of the 19th century. As early as 1826, Simon Bolivar convened the “Congress of Panama” with the aim of founding a union of the states of the American hemisphere.

In 1890 the first international conference of American states was held in Washington, DC. This founded the “International Union of American Republics”. In 1910 this organization became the “Pan-American Union”.

In 1948 the members of the Pan-American Union signed the “Charter of the OAS” and the “American Declaration of Human Rights and Duties” (the first international document of human rights), thus completing the smooth transition from the Pan-American Union to the OAS.


With its concept encompassing all American states, the OAS is the most important political forum for multilateral dialogue and cooperation. The four official languages ​​- English, French, Spanish and Portuguese – illustrate the diversity of people and cultures on the American continent.

However: The OAS is still a very loose organization. The interests and potentials of the member states are too different – from the current hyperpower USA to the rising great power Brazil to the smallest states in the Caribbean like Grenada or Dominica. The global north-south divide is also visible across the American continent:

An increasing social gap between North and South (in Latin America almost 45 percent of the population live in poverty – and the trend is rising), the lack of competitiveness in many Latin American countries, poor education, social deficits, problematic judicial and financial systems, etc.

The ambitious goal of an American Free Trade Area of ​​the Americas (FTAA), analogous to the North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA), is not being pushed by all members. Many prefer a deepening of regional cooperation, for example through the expansion of the “Mercosur – Common Market of the South”. (South = South America).
See internal website
• Mercosur at a glance

Even after the founding of the OAS, the rather gloomy history of many Central and South American states – characterized by dictatorships, revolutions, corrupt governments and oppression – makes it difficult to imagine the implementation of the noble goals of the OAS Charter.

In addition, a number of countries, especially South American countries, are showing a new self-confidence, coupled with the old distrust of the overpowering USA. The latest eloquent example: The establishment of the “Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC)” in 2010 as a kind of alternative (or a competitor?).
See internal website
• The CELAC at a glance

members of the OAS (35)

Antigua and Barbuda El Salvador Panama
Argentina Grenada Paraguay
Bahamas Guatemala Peru
Barbados Guyana St. Kitts and Nevis
Belize Haiti St. Lucia
Bolivia Honduras (1) St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Brazil Jamaica Surinam
Chile Canada Trinidad and Tobago
Costa Rica Colombia Uruguay
Dominica Cuba (2) Venezuela (3)
Dominican Republic Mexico USA
Ecuador Nicaragua

1.Honduras was suspended from 2009-2011.
2. Cuba was suspended from 1962-2009. Cuba still refuses to cooperate.
3. Venezuela wants / is expected to leave the OAS in 2019.