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OAS: Organization of American States: Home

Research Guide for OAS

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Background Information

The Organization of American States (OAS) was established in 1948 by 21 nations of the hemisphere. Since its creation, the OAS has expanded to include all 35 independent countries of the Americas. Cuba remains a member, but its government has been excluded from participation since 1962. The four official languages of the OAS are English, Spanish, French and Portuguese. Its predecessors are the International Bureau of the American Republics and the Pan American Union.

The OAS serves as a political forum for multilateral dialogue and action. In broad terms, its major concerns have been the promotion of democracy, human rights, security, trade, and development. Its impact has been most crucial on specific events or regional developments such as the Alliance for Progress, the Cuban Revolution, the Nicaraguan Revolution, and more recently, as mediator between political factions in Venezuela. The OAS is the umbrella and governing body for many inter-American committees and specialized organizations, including the Pan American Health Organization, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and the Inter-American Agency for Cooperation and Development.

For more details, go to the OAS webpage at

More about the OAS

For more information on the OAS, including its history and critical assessments, search BobCat and other online indexes and bibliographies such as International Political Science Abstracts, PAIS: Public Affairs Information Service, Hispanic American Periodicals Index, and the Handbook of Latin American Studies.

The following two bibliographies contain a listing of many of the most important works written about the OAS.

Sheinin, David. The Organization of American States. Oxford: ABC-CLIO, 1995.
Call Number: F1402 .S5 1995 Non-circulating (1st Floor Reference)

Welch, Thomas L and René L. Gutiérrez. The Organization of American States: a Bibliography. Washington, D.C.: Columbus Memorial Library, Organization of American States, 1990.
Call Number: KDZ1101 .W45 1990 Non-circulating (Bobst REF6 International Documents) 

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